arklow fisherman Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow John Brady has slammed the continuous passing of the buck by the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Charlie McConalogue in relation to the case of local Arklow fisherman CJ Gaffney, this is despite being offered a solution on a plate by the EU Commission. petion committee

The Committee on Public Petitions has heard that there has been no movement on the the Justice and Safety Petition lodged by CJ Gaffney in relation to the ‘Mary Kate’

The Dáil Committee on Public Petitions has heard that an application made by the former owner of the beam-trawler, FV ‘Mary Kate’ WD-30 is still in process.

In June this year, CJ Gaffney submitted the Justice and Safety petition to the Committee calling on the Government to compensate him for his financial losses resulting from the purchase of the ‘Mary Kate’ and subsequent defects that were recovered, and for an official investigation into all aspects of how a dangerous vessel was accepted and passed by Irish authorities, on the back of the vessel being passed seaworthy by authorities in Germany and the Netherlands.

The 23.93-metre Euro-Cutter, was designed and built in the Netherlands and was previously named the Maarten Senior SC-30 and Evert Jan SC-30. CJ bought the fishing boat in 2007 with a valid sailing permit and stability book from a German broker. The Mary Kate was surveyed twice by a Dutch survey company before being purchased. Upon arrival in Ireland, the Marine Survey Office passed the boat as seaworthy.

By 2009, after two near capsizes, CJ sought the services of Naval Architect who found that there were 20 extra tonnes of unaccounted for steel in the hull of the vessel, something that could only be remedied by lengthening to ensure stability. That was the start of a long road, where CJ tried to remedy the issue in order to save his boat but by 2012, he was forced to sell under pressure from the bank.

Despite an opinion from the European Commission, and pressure from Ireland’s MEPs to pay the Gaffney family compensation from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for their financial losses, successive Ministers of the Marine have denied them justice.

At last month’s Committee meeting on Thursday 15 June, Cathaoirleach Martin Browne (Sinn Féin) TD said that the Committee recommended the Department of Transport be contacted in relation to the issue as the MSO and the Marine Safety Directorate comes under its remit.

Once the Committee had heard a response from the Department of Transport, the Committee would refer the Petition to the European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries to examine the issue at European level and close any loopholes in legislation.

At yesterday’s Committee meeting, the Cathaoirleach asked if there had been any response from the Department of Transport to which committee member, Pat Buckley (Sinn Féin) TD replied:

“No Chair. It’s substantial. I mean as I said at the previous meeting, we’re not miracle workers here. We will go with the recommendations and see what we can do. It’s a difficult process, we have to follow procedure, but we have to agree with the recommendations.”

The Cathaoirleach responded by saying that there was a massive amount of work gone into this already and they were awaiting the outcome, and hoped that the loopholes would be closed off to stop this happening in the future.

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