Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has today (Tuesday) tabled a motion calling for controversial legislation imposing the current penalty points system on the fishing industry to be revoked, and has criticised Minister Coveney for having signed the Statutory Instrument for its implementation, despite a recent High Court judgement that ruled to abolish the system.
Deputy Doherty said:
“I very much support this motion tabled today by myself and my colleagues in Sinn Féin calling for the Statutory Instrument signed by the Minister for the Marine which forces the current penalty points system on fishermen to be annulled.
“The system is grossly unfair and, despite a High Court judgement ruling that the system operated on the assumption of guilt, the Minister choose to sign the Statutory Instrument allowing for penalty points to be imposed on fishing licences even if the holder is found innocent of any prosecution.
“The High Court ruled that that the provisions of the current penalty points system for fishermen who engage in illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing were unconstitutional and therefore not fit for purpose, and yet the Minister has ignored this.
“He has chosen instead to sign this legislation without even having first consulted with the fishing industry or with the very people whose livelihoods which his decision stands to affect.
“By signing Statutory Instrument no 125 of 2016 he has ridden roughshod over the rights of fishermen and indeed over the High Court. Fishermen are used to governments introducing new regulations and blaming the EU but it is a new low for a government that was kicked out of power to bring in an instrument and deny any debate on it.
“I and my Sinn Fein colleagues have tabled a motion annulling this instrument. However, while my motion is on today’s Order Papers, the Government will not allow it onto the agenda.
“Fishermen in Killybegs have contacted me expressing their anger at what they see as the criminalisation of their livelihoods. It strikes me as unprecedented for a Statutory Instrument to be brought in that flies in the face of a High Court judgment.
“This instrument requires a full debate and a real discussion on how we treat our fishermen, this is why my party and I have decided to table today’s motion calling on the Statutory Instrument to be annulled.”