Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has criticised Waterford’s Fianna Fáil and Green Party TDs for refusing to vote down an unfair and potentially illegal scheme which would see Waterford fishermen persecuted without being able to appeal, while foreign-registered fishing boats operating in Irish waters would be immune.
Sinn Féin proposed a Dáil motion to annul the regulations that introduced an deeply flawed system of penalty points for Ireland’s fishing fleet, but it was voted down by Fine Gael, Greens and Fianna Fáil.
and has been critical of the penalty points system since it was first mooted a number of years ago.
“The penalty points scheme is flawed, its unfair, it flies in the face of natural justice, and it was introduced by a caretaker Minister after zero consultation with the Irish fishing industry.
“Whats perplexing is that Fianna Fáil actually opposed the penalty points scheme and voted against it before entering Government. It seems promises made to the fishing industry and to coastal communities are a small price to pay for ministerial perks and advisors.
“Ireland’s fishing community are not opposed to the introduction of a penalty points scheme, but they need fairness.
“This scheme accepts a ‘balance of probability’ position for prosecution, allows penalty points to remain on a licence even after a successful appeal in the courts, transfers penalty points to the
new owner when a fishing licence is sold, and effectively allows for one agency to be judge, jury and executioner.
“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.
“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.
“The scheme remains on the statute books however it is likely to be challenged in the courts, forcing the Government into a costly backtrack.”