Wicklow County Council has voted in favour of supporting CJ Gaffney in their fight to be granted compensation for the ‘Mary Kate’ WD 30
Wicklow County Council has voted in favour of supporting CJ Gaffney and his family in their fight to be given compensation for the losses they incurred over the beam trawler ‘Mary Kate’ WD 30 which they bought in 2007.
After buying the ‘Mary Kate’ from a company in Germany and being passed seaworthy in Ireland by the Marine Survey Office (MSO) based on seaworthy certificates from German officials, CJ and his crew experienced two life threatening situations when the boat keeled dangerously during fishing operations. After several tests, it was found there was 20 tonnes of unaccounted for steel in the hull of the 23.93 metre boat. After trying to put things right with the boat, CJ and his family faced mounting costs, numerous official blockages, and were eventually forced to sell the ‘Mary Kate’ at a loss, which left the family deeply in debt with banks. You can read the story of the ‘Mary Kate’ WD 30 here.
Since that time, CJ has been seeking a remedy, but courts have told him that he is time barred from having his case heard, and the Department of Transport, who are over the MSO, have washed their hands off the family’s case as they say the vessel was under 24 metres in length and at the time there was no legal responsibility on the MSO to test the boats stability.
CJ and his family have received backing from the fishing industry, Irish MEPs and the European Commission have said that if they had the power to compensate the Gaffney family, he would do so, but he it can only advise the Irish government to pay compensation from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
At home in Ireland, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, has steadfastly refused to pay the Gaffney family any compensation from the EMFF. Taking the line of previous Minister’s with his portfolio, they believe it would lead to a litany of claims, even though the Gaffney family case is believed to be a one-off.
Last night, Wicklow County Council voted in favour of a motion to recognise the European Commission’s confirmation that the Government could exceptionally address the case.
Speaking after the vote, Independent Councillor Peir Leonard, said:
“I think this might have been a bit of an accomplishment today to get all of the sitting councillors of Wicklow County Council to support my motion for CJ Gaffney & family.
“The motion being, ”That WCC asks the Government to recognise the European Commission’s confirmation that the Government could exceptionally address the case of CJ Gaffney and the MV Mary Kate through the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF).”
“I would like to thank each and every councillor across all the parties who contributed to making this happen today.”
Independent Councillor John Snell said:
“My request for this motion to be circulated to every Local Authority in the Country was also passed so hopefully it will allow them to do the same, this will sent out a powerful message to the powers that be to stop hiding behind red tape and compensate and give fair play to Cj Gaffney & family for something was totally out of their hands.”
Speaking to The Fishing Daily after the vote CJ said:
“I would like to thank all of the Councillors here tonight for looking at the evidence and the facts and making their own minds up. The 100% support it received across all parties and Independents should send a clear message that there is clear support for Minister McConalogue to act. I hope that other County Councils will do the same, and again, I would like to thank Wicklow County Council, Sean Kelly MEP and our Irish MEPs for their continued support.”