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Another Marine Minister

Two Government Ministers whose responsibility included the Marine have been appointed in just over a fortnight. Barry Cowen, who had told the fishing industry not to be concerned that he was from an inland county, was sacked and replaced by Dara Calleary who is from a coastal county, Mayo.

The National Inshore Fishermen’s Association sent its “Congratulations” on the appointment of “a man from a coastal constituency that’s home to a lot of inshore boats.”

Minister Calleary has two Junior Ministers in his Department - Senator Pippa Hackett, Super Junior Minister for Agriculture, with responsibilities for Land Use and Biodiversity and Deputy Martin Heydon, Minister of State for Research and Development, Farm Safety and New Market Development. No specific appointment for the Marine sector.

Marine Casualty Board Is Not Independent

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the Marine Casualty Investigation Board is not independent of Government due to the presence on its board of two civil servants. These are the Secretary-General of the Department of Transport (or deputed Depurty), under which it operates and the Chief Surveyor in the Marine Survey Office of the Department, Brian Hogan.

The MCIB describes its function as: “to examine and if necessary carry out investigations into all types of marine casualties to, or on board, Irish-registered vessels worldwide and other vessels in Irish territorial waters and inland waterways.”

What is now the Department of Climate Action, Communications and Transport says it is “examining the judgment.” The Court finding was discussed in the Dáil where Hildegarde Naughton who is Minister of State for Transport, said the Department is “seeking legal advice to address the court findings and the concerns of the EU Commission.”

International maritime lawyer, Michael Kingston, whose father Tim, died in the Whiddy island Betelgeuse oil tanker explosion 41 years ago, has called for an “immediate public inquiry” into investigations by the Board. He is one of the leaders of the Betelgeuse Families Association and is also seeking a Garda inquiry into the Marine Casualty Investigation Board. Since 2014 he has been complaining to the government about issues about the Board which he says need to be rectified, for the protection of life and the environment. He says he has been ignored and that, following the decision, “Ireland is now in the deeply embarrassing and humiliating position on the world stage to have had a Judgement.”

He can be heard on the MARINE TIMES WEEKEND PODCAST.