Concern over new fishing penalty points system
According to Donegal independent TD Thomas Pringle, Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed is to sign a new Statutory Instrument introducing a penalty points system for fishing offences to replace the existing system.
A Points Determination Panel will also be established comprising of three nominees from various agencies. Minister Creed has indicated he will shortly introduce the new system in response to a High Court judgement last year which deemed the previous system as flawed and not fit for purpose.
Deputy Thomas Pringle says he is concerned that the new system wonâ€™t address an anomaly that could potentially jeopardise the livelihoods of many Donegal fishermen if the penalty points system is not administered in conjunction with the prosecution process.
â€˜The Minister last year committed to introducing a fair penalty point system however he has been silent on this occasion as to whether the new system will in fact fix the anomaly where fishermen are unable to get rid of penalty points on their fishing licence despite the courts finding them not guilty of an offence,â€™ he said.
â€˜I would urge the Minister to ensure that in the case where penalty points are applied to a licence without a prosecution, that adequate recourse to the courts is provided for in the system to ensure fair procedure is guaranteed,â€™ he commented, adding that it is a basic principle in Irish law that recourse to the courts is provided for so there is no reason why this cannot be applied in upcoming legislation.
â€˜I will also seek further clarification from the Minister regarding the Points Determination Panel and whether this will facilitate or hinder a fair process. There has been no consultation with fishermen or the sector and I think fishermen across Donegal and elsewhere need that clarity before changes are made,â€™ he said.
â€˜There has been a lot of anger in the fishing community on the penalty points issue Iâ€™ve been raising this for over a year now firstly with Minister Simon Coveney and now with Minister Creed. Iâ€™ll be seeking a commitment from the Minister that consultation with the wider fishing community will be carried out and in the Agriculture Committee in the lead up to any changes to legislation to ensure that fishermen will be treated fairly under the new system,â€™ Thomas Pringle concluded.
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