A Donegal TD has accused the Taoiseach of imposing penalty points on the fishing industry without consulting with the industry.
The Sinn Féin spokesman on Fisheries and the Marine Pádraig MacLochlainn has called on Micheál Martin to urgently clarify why he signed off on a statutory instrument that will impose penalty points on the fishing industry without consultation.
Mr MacLochlainn has described the action as deeply disturbing, considering the controversial history behind the enforcement measures.
"Mícheál Martin knows full well the huge controversy around this proposed penalty points scheme over recent years. He needs to urgently clarify why he signed off on this Statutory Instrument as an acting Minister for the Marine and without consulting with representatives of the Irish fishing industry,” Mr MacLochlainn said.
"The last two Fine Gael led governments attempted to introduce a penalty points system, but this was first overturned in the Supreme Court as it was deemed unjust and then the last Dáil passed a motion to annul and rescind a subsequent SI (SI No. 89 of 2018). Micheál Martin must remember this as the motion was put forward by his party’s then spokesperson on the Marine and Donegal TD Pat The Cope Gallagher.
"Fishing industry representatives have been clear all along. They are not opposed to a penalty points system but it must be a fair one, based on natural justice where the law enforcement agency (the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority in this case) must prove a person(s) guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, with the right to appeal to the High Court and that no penalty points would be apportioned to any boat if the owners are successful in their appeal or defence.
"The fishing community around the Irish coast has been severely hit by the global pandemic and they have been abandoned by their government without any adequate financial support. They are also deeply worried about the growing danger to their industry from a no-deal outcome in Brexit trade negotiations.
"In that context and considering the controversial history of this scheme, this is a deeply disturbing action by the Taoiseach."
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