Irish MEPs have called on Taoiseach Micheál Martin to resolve the case involving the Mary Kate WD-30 and the Gaffney family from Arklow
Ten Irish MEPs, led by Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly, have issued a letter to An Taoiseach Micheál Martin asking for him to resolve the case involving the Gaffney family and the ‘Mary Kate’ WD-30.
In the joint letter, the cross-party MEPs have demanded that the Taoiseach bring together the Department of Transport and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in order to make a decision on compensating CJ and the Gaffney family.
Speaking on East Coast Radio this morning, Mr Kelly said that if both departments cannot agree to who should compensate CJ, then they should go to the EU Commission and explain why they believe they should not sign-off on the case.
Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius has restated the Commission’s opinion that CJ should be compensated from the EMFF or EMFAF as this is an exceptional case, but so far, the Irish government has failed to recognise the case for compensation with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, TD, telling CJ that it would “open the floodgates to claims”.
A Department official then wrote to CJ to inform him that the DAFM would no longer deal with the case, and it was now an issue for the Department of Transport, even though the Commission’s opinion was that it is the responsibility of the DAFM.
On this morning’s show Mr Kelly said that the departments had been “Passing the buck” and called on the Taoiseach “to get the departments together and if they are not willing to pay the compensation, which I think CJ deserves, then they should get in touch with the European Commission.”
The letter says that having liaised at length with the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) and the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) in the European Commission, “they have advised us that the European Commission has no jurisdiction over this matter. This is so for two reasons. Firstly, fishing vessels with a length of less than 24 metres, such as the MV Mary Kate, fall outside the EU fishing vessel safety legislation (Directive 97/70/EC). Secondly, fishing vessels are not covered within the Single Market legislation and hence EU acquis on consumer rights are not applicable in this case.
“However, the European Commission has made it clear on several occasions that Mr Gaffney’s case can be exceptionally addressed through the European Fund for Maritime and Fisheries. This matter has been previously reverted to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, as well as the Department of Transport for consideration.”
The letter goes on to point out issues raised by the Taoiseach himself regarding the safety and certification of fishing vessels:
“In your letter to Minister Simon Harris dated 6 December 2021, you indicated that issues concerning the safety of fishing vessels and safety certification come within the competence of the Minister of Transport. Clarification regarding this issue is therefore needed as to what department would be responsible to distribute exceptional funding under the European Fund for Maritime and Fisheries in this case, as indicated for use by the European Commission.”
The letter concludes by again calling on the Taoiseach to get the job done, it says, “At this stage, the matter has been left unresolved for the best part of 15 years and it does not reflect well on the government that this remains the case when a clear remedy is available.”
The letter was signed by Seán Kelly MEP (Fine Gael/EPP Group), Colm Markey MEP (Fine Gael/EPP Group), Deirdre Clune MEP (Fine Gael/EPP Group), Maria Walsh MEP (Fine Gael/EPP Group), Frances Fitzgerald MEP (Fine Gael/EPP Group), Ciaran Cuffe MEP (Green Party/EFA Group), Grace O’Sullivan MEP (Green Party/EFA Group), Chris MacManus MEP (Sinn Fein/The Left), Mick Wallace MEP (Independent/The Left) and Clare Daly MEP (Independent/The Left).