Independent TD from Cork, Michael Collins has called for an independent inquiry into the Punta Candieira debacle
Independent TD Michael Collins has called for an inquiry into the incident where a Spanish-registered fishing vessel was found illegally fishing inside the12-mile limit and attempting to ram an Irish trawler, and into why it took so long for Irish authorities to respond to the incident.
Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Deputy Collins described to the chamber how the Lours des Mers was threatened by the Punta Candieira who has since been detained by the Irish authorities.
Deputy Collins questioned the excessive period of time it took the Irish Navy to attend the scene of the incident, to detain the Spanish vessel and asked what would happen if the Lours de Mers would have been sunk and the Spanish boat escaped.
The skipper of the Lours des Mers reported the incident to Valentia at 08.00 on the morning of Friday 28 May but it was over 10 hours later before the Irish Naval vessel the LÉ Róisín arrived at the scene of where the incident happened. By that time the Punta Candieira had cut and fled leaving miles of longlines behind.
The Irish Navy did not move to detain the Spanish-registered vessel until several days later on Tuesday 01 June, a time period which Deputy Collins says was too long.
“This is an international incident. It was an act of piracy off our Irish coastline, and nobody is willing to act on it immediately because it needed immediate action.”
He went on to criticise the Taoiseach’s reaction to the incident saying:
“I contacted the Taoiseach’s office at 10.37, of which I have a record on my phone, and I also, thankfully emailed him because he is now denying that no communication was made but the emails are proof in itself, and that was at 10.56 he was emailed.
“I emailed the SFPA at 10.56 and they came back to me, and they said they look into the matter and boat at 8:00 that night, they came back saying there were further investigations into the matter put it.
“At 8:00 o’clock in the night but nobody out at sea to protect the west Cork and Castletownbere fishermen. So, what I’m saying is there is no assistance to the Irish boat in the 10 or 12 hours after they desperately needed assistance.
“We need an independent investigation into this matter. It’s the only way we can clear up how is it that there was no protection for Irish fishermen out at sea on Friday last.”