Sinn Féin spokesperson on Fisheries, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD has today appealed to the government to listen to the voice of fishermen around the coast.
It comes ahead of a debate tomorrow on his party’s Private Members Bill to annul a statutory instrument recently signed by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin that introduced a penalty points system for Ireland’s offshore fishing fleet.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said his party is moving this Private Members Bill to protect Ireland’s fishing communities by annulling an unfair and unjust penalty points system.
He said “Fishers all around our coast were shocked and outraged when they learned that the Taoiseach had signed off on the statutory instrument introducing regulations containing this penalty point system.
“Ireland’s fishers are presently enduring the impact of Covid-19 and facing a potentially livelihood threatening Brexit. For an Irish Government to now throw this on top of them also is beyond belief.
“This scheme, as with the last one that Fianna Fáil annulled, accepts a ‘balance of probability’ position for prosecution and allows a situation where applied penalty points remain on a licence even after a court of law may deem after a court appeal that a fisher did not commit an offence.
“It also allows allocated points to transfer and multiply with the sale of a quota even though the purchaser will not have committed any offence and furthermore allows the nominated authority by Government to oversee the penalty points system to essentially be judge, jury and executioner.”
He said fishermen have vowed to battle any prosecutions tooth and nail through the courts.
“Fishing organisations have already advised that they will bring the Government through the Courts again as soon as the first prosecution occurs. This happened back in 2016 when the Supreme Court ruled that scheme as being unconstitutional.
“We need to stand up for our fishing communities and ensure they are treated in a fair and proportionate manner. Common sense must prevail.
“I am calling on TDs from all parties to support our fishing communities and back this motion.
“Fianna Fáil are totally exposed by Micheál Martin’s action to sign this penalty points system into law, which contradicts their previous stance on this issue. I am urging TDs in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Greens and indeed across all parties in the Dáil to see sense and stop this illogical system urgently.”