Taoiseach must explain why he signed off on penalty points for the fishing industry without consulting with them- Pádraig Mac Lochlainn
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Fisheries and the Marine, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD has called on an Taoiseach, Micheál Martin to urgently clarify why he signed off a Statutory Instrument (S.I. No. 318 of 2020) on Wednesday last, that will impose penalty points on the fishing industry, without consulting with them.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn has described the action as “deeply disturbing”, considering the controversial history behind these enforcement measures.
“Mícheál Martin knows full well the huge controversy around this proposed penalty points scheme over recent years. He needs to urgently clarify why he signed off on this S.I as an acting Minister for the Marine and without consulting with the representatives of the Irish fishing industry.
The last two Fine Gael led governments had attempted to introduce a penalty point system but this was first overturned in the Supreme Court as it was deemed unjust and then the last Dáil passed a motion to annul and rescind a subsequent S.I (S.I. No. 89 of 2018). Micheál Martin must remember this as the motion was put forward by his party’s then Spokesperson on the Marine and Donegal TD Pat The Cope Gallagher”.
“Fishing industry representatives have been clear all along. They are not opposed to a penalty points system but it must be a fair one, based on natural justice where the law enforcement agency (the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority in this case) must prove a person(s) guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, with the right to appeal to the High Court and that no penalty points would be apportioned to any boat if the owners are successful in their appeal or defence.
Micheál Martin must also urgently clarify what changes have been made to this statutory instrument that addresses these entirely legitimate concerns”
“The fishing community around the Irish coast has been severely hit by this global pandemic crisis and they have been abandoned by their Government without any adequate financial support. They are also deeply worried about the growing danger to their industry from a no deal outcome to the ongoing Brexit trade negotiations.
In that context and considering the controversial history of this scheme, this is a deeply disturbing action by an Taoiseach”.