Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher has welcomed the support within the Dáil for his motion to rescind Minister Michael Creed’s Statutory Instrument giving effect to a penalty point system for serious fishing infringements.
He said this is the third attempt by the Government to introduce a new system of sanctioning fishermen for serious fishing infringements.
Pat the Cope added “I am delighted the Dáil has united in turning down this secondary piece of legislation which was unfair and imbalanced in how it dealt with fishermen.
“The proposals from the Minister failed to provide give an appropriate appeals mechanism, it focused too much power with SFPA and gave them an over domineering role in the various processes, it also allowed for multiplication of points when tonnage was being sold – which was grossly unfair whereby individuals could end up with multiples of the original points awarded for fishing infringements.”
The Donegal TD said it failed to give an automatic right of an oral hearing, added to that the timeframes and timelines given to fishermen for them to compile their evidence to be prepared was unrealistic and far too restrictive.
And he added “Notwithstanding all the other serious points, it was also proposed by the Minister to deal with fishermen on the basis of lesser evidence in order to secure a conviction – instead of convicting an individual on the basis of beyond reasonable doubt which is the norm in our country – Minister Creed attempted to convict on the balance of probabilities – which takes much less evidence in order to secure a prosecution. In many ways it was like Judge Roy Bean justice whereby you get a fair trial and then you are hanged regardless.”
He stated that a similar SI from the previous Fine Gael Government was struck down by the Irish Courts in 2017, but claimed the Minister did not fully understand the judgement handed down by the Supreme Court.
“This legislation if it had been passed by the Dáil would have made second class citizens of our fishermen and would not permit natural justice to prevail. For too long we have been over zealously introducing EU Directives into Irish law without properly studying their consequences on the Irish people.
“We as a party acknowledge that a penalty points system must be introduced but not at the expense of the rights of Irish fishermen. We as a party have prepared an alternative system (SI) which allows for appeals, grants an Oral Hearing, gives realistic timelines for furnishing evidence and appeals, treats fishermen with respect before the law and does away with multiplication of penalty points when selling tonnage.
“In effect, we deal comprehensively with all the issues which the Government have failed to address over the past 7 years since the Commission’s Directive in 2011 on a penalty points system for serious fishing infringements.”
He concluded that the Government have attempted in different ways and on different occasions to introduce this “dreadful system” of sanctioning fishermen and this “poor law” proposed by the Minister would directly negatively impact on fishermen throughout our coastal communities. But, today the Dáil has sent the Minister back to the drawing board.
“It is now incumbent on all of us as Legislators to draw up and agree laws which are acceptable, in keeping with our EU requirements but equally respectful of the rights of the Irish citizen – in short that such laws are fair and balanced towards the rights of the individual.
“I wish to publically acknowledge the support of the Deputies from other political parties and the Independents who supported the motion which I tabled in order to rescind this SI of the Minister. It is clear that the Dáil needs to establish a mechanism which provides for appropriate scrutiny of legislation before it is laid before the Oireachtas by a Minister,” concluded Pat the Cope.Tags: