Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said Fianna Fáil’s support for a penalty points system for fishermen shows they will say anything in opposition to get into government.
Deputy Pringle said that for the first time in the history of the State a government law was rejected in 2018 on this penalty points issue when the Fianna Fáil party put forward the motion to reject it.
He said “And now Fianna Fáil has brought it forward and implemented it.”
Deputy Pringle addressed the Dáil on a private member’s bill to annul a statutory instrument
Taoiseach Micheál Martin signed in August that will introduce a penalty points system for fishermen.
Deputy Pringle said “I was speaking to a number of fishermen today and they genuinely couldn’t figure out how this could happen, how Fianna Fáil could say one thing and do something else. And I said there was an election in between. Fianna Fáil are now in government. They’ll say anything in opposition and when they go into government they’ll do the exact opposite.
“And it really brought it home to those fishermen that this actually is what happens. And hopefully it will bring it home to a lot of people that this is what is happening here, that Fianna Fáil can say whatever they want in opposition and when they get into government they can do the exact opposite.”
He said Fianna Fáil will pass the penalty points through despite the problems that have been laid out in relation to the proposal over the years.
Deputy Pringle said “And they are the same problems that were there when it was rejected, and before that when the courts struck it down, too.” Deputy Pringle said problems with the proposal include the restricted appeals system, issues around the burden of proof, and the system’s failure to take into account the economic situation of the offender, required under EU regulations.
“Where is the economic situation of the offender being taken into account in terms of these penalty points? It’s certainly not anywhere that I can see in relation to this.”
He also pointed to the transfer of points in a sale, saying that if tonnage is split up and goes to four different boats, the penalty points will transfer to each boat.
The Killybegs-based deputy also said many fishermen and fishing communities do not feel they can get a fair hearing from the Government, the Department of the Marine, or the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.
“And I think that’s where this Government is going to have ongoing problems dealing with fishing and dealing with fishing control and fishing regulations,” Deputy Pringle said.
“If fishermen felt they worked on their behalf they could have a frank and open discussion with them and the Government could go a long way toward making a system that works.”Tags: