Sinn Féin will Oppose Minister Simon Coveney´s decision to overturn High Court judgement – Doherty

Killybegs Harbour

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has this week condemned Minister Simon Coveney´s decision to sign a new Statutory Instrument which over rules a recent High Court judgement abolishing the current penalty point system for fishermen.

Criticising the Minister’s actions, Deputy Doherty said that the singing of the legislation will result in the continued and unjustifiable criminalisation of fishermen, including those in Donegal, and said that Sinn Féin will be seeking to have it revoked.

Deputy Doherty said,

“Under the present penalty point system in place which was introduced to deter illegal and unregulated fishing activity, even if a Skipper was acquitted in any prosecution case, the penalty points still remained on the vessel.

"A recent High Court judgement accepted a case brought by the industry that the present penalty point system operated on the assumption of guilt of fishermen, before proper legal procedure and rightfully ruled in favour of fishermen.

“The ruling in effect struck down the secondary legislation introduced in 2014 which gave effect to the penalty points system for fishermen.

“However despite the courts findings, Minister Simon Coveney last week signed a new Statutory Instrument which over rules this decision and the new legislation does not remove penalty points from fishing licences, even if a fisherman is found innocent of any prosecution.

“No stakeholders were informed or consulted about this beforehand, which is despicable and only further highlights Fine Gael's contempt for ordinary people when the judicial system rules in their favour.

“I am regularly contacted by fishing communities from across Donegal about the unfairness of the practice, and how innocent fishermen are being criminalised on a constant basis by the authorities.

“What is required are administrative sanctions against fishermen who are found to engage in illegal fishing activity not criminal sanctions as was introduced by Fianna Fáil in 2005.

“Sinn Féin has been to the fore in voicing our opposition to this unfair system, and we will oppose the statutory instrument signed last week by the Minister because it is wrong and unfairly punishes the fishing community.”