Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow John Brady has slammed the continuous passing of the buck by the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Charlie McConalogue in relation to the case of local Arklow fisherman CJ Gaffney, this is despite being offered a solution on a plate by the EU Commission.
Teachta Brady said:
“Over the last number of years, I have been working hard to try to get a resolution for local Arklow fisherman CJ Gaffney. However, the failure by both the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Charlie McConalogue to take responsibility for the issue is outrageous. The plight of the Arklow fisherman is being kicked between both Ministers, with neither prepared to do the decent thing and deal with the issue and progress the solution that has been provided by the EU Commission.
“CJ Gaffney is an ordinary individual, who purchased a fishing trawler the Mary Kate WD30 in 2007 in good faith. It was deemed fit for purpose by several surveys and passed as seaworthy by the Marine Survey Office.
“It was subsequently found to have serious stability issues – tests showed 20 tonnes of unaccounted steel were in the vessel. The family spent considerable funds trying to rectify the serious issues. The funds ultimately were exhausted, leaving the family without a boat or any finances.
“This issue was found to be a fault with this particular type of vessel across Europe, and indeed many EU states have taken action to protect their own fisheries.
“The European Commission previously informed Mr Gaffney that while the issue was outside of their remit, the Irish government would be able to draw down EU funds from the European Fisheries Fund to compensate Mr Gaffney, given the very unique circumstances of his case.
“The Irish government has failed to do this, and what we have witnessed is a case of ‘passing the buck’ between government departments, as they work to avoid taking responsibility for the matter.
“In my latest reply from the Green Party Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, he again refuses to take responsibility for the issue and that he would ‘suggest that the individual concerned should contact the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine to pursue such matters’ He is yet again attempting to kick it back to Charlie McConalogue, who had kicked it to him.
“Behind the appalling and shameful game being played between these two Ministers is a man and a family who have lost everything through no fault of their own. A solution has been offered by the EU Commission, all it takes is for one of them to give some respect to the family and show a little leadership and progress the solution.
“I had previously written to the Taoiseach Michael Martin and asked him to intervene and to outline which government department is the competent department to deal with the CJ Gaffney’s case. Unfortunately, I am still awaiting a reply. The Taoiseach needs to pull together a cross departmental meeting with CJ Gaffney and the Wicklow TD’s to resolve this scandalous case once and for all. I am writing to the three Wicklow Government TDs and asking them to immediately arrange this meeting.”