Taoiseach Micheál Martin is reconsidering penalty points system he signed into law on Friday after it emerged it could be unconstitutional
It has been rumoured that Taoiseach Micheál Martin is reconsidering S.I No 318 of 2020 European Union (Common Fisheries Policy) (Point System) Regulations 2020, which he signed into law on Friday.
The Taoiseach acting as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine decided to bring a new penalty points system into effectt but there has been considerable derision amongst the fishing community who say that it contains the same constitutional flaws as the previous Statutory Instruments that have been struck down by respective decisions from the High Court and Supreme Court.
It is said Micheál Martin is livid with officials who he believes misled him into signing the S.I and was only told about the issue of the fishery penalty points after he received complaints from leaders in the Irish fishing industry.
The S.I was to bring into effect a penalty point system for both Irish fishing vessels fishing in Irish water and in other EU Member States waters and for foreign vessels fishing in Irish waters.
The Government is under pressure from the EU to introduce a penalty point system after the Commission issued them with a sent a reasoned opinion to Ireland in July over its failure to fulfil its obligations under Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009.
Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 which is also known as ‘’Control Regulation” establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
The Commission is withholding EMFF (European Maritime and Fisheries Funds) from the government until a penalty point system is introduced.
It has been said that the Taoiseach is willing to make changes to the Statutory Instrument but it has not been disclosed what those changes are but Irish licence holders will hope that the main change will be in relation to how penalty points are assigned.
In all the penalty points legislation so far, points are applied to the licence holder before any criminal proceedings are heard which is out of line with fair procedures and unconstitutional.
This is the fourth attempt to introduce a penalty points system in Ireland with the High Court ruling on two cases in favour of the fishing industry.
The 2014 S.I was deemed unconstitutional, the 2016 was a carbon copy of the previous S.I and another attempt in 2018 , by then Minister for the Marine, Michael Creed, TD was voted down in the Dáil.
The Taoiseach only took over the acting role of Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine on 21 August after Deputy Dara Calleary TD, vacated the office after being caught up in controversy for attending an Óireachtas Golf Event in Clifden, Co Galway with 80 others who included then EU Trade Commissioner, Phil Hogan and Supreme Court Judge Séamus Wolfe.
Dara Calleary had been in the portfolio 37 days after taking over from Barry Cowen, TD who had been at the centre of controversy over a drink-driving ban he received four years ago. Cowen had held the office for 17 days before Micheál Martin removed him from the position.