Brady calls on Taoiseach to intervene directly in case of Arklow Trawler Skipper CJ Gaffney

Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady speaking at the Dáil Petitions Committee following evidence given by Arklow Fisherman CJ Gaffney, has called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to intervene directly in the issue of the MV Mary Kate in order to cut through the wall of obfuscation constructed by Ministers Charlie McConalogue and Eamon Ryan.

Following years of frustration and false leads and unnecessary roadblocks put in place by government Ministers CJ Gaffney continue with the fight to find justice for their case. Gaffney’s appearance before the Committee was described by acting chair of the Petitions Committee Sinn Féin TD Pat Buckley as

Brady said: “In 2007, CJ Gaffney purchased a Dutch fishing trawler, the Mary Kate WD30, in Holland and through several surveys was deemed fit for purpose by the Marine Service Office. Subsequently in 2009, the fishing trawler was found to have serious stability issues, tests showed 20 tonnes of unaccounted steel were in the vessel.

An issue that was found to “be a fault with this particular type of vessel across Europe, and indeed many EU states have taken action to protect their own fisheries. The Gaffney family have been put through 15 years of torture. CJ Gaffney has been left with his life in ruins as a result of the callous indifference of the coalition government to take on board the advice of the European Commission and provide compensation for the costs incurred due to the stability flaws in a fishing vessel, the MV Mary Kate, which had been certified by the EU.

I cannot understand the continuing refusal of two senior ministers – Eamon Ryan and Charlie McConalogue – to come to an agreement as to whose department is willing to take responsibility for making a decision in relation to this issue, despite being offered a clear solution by the European Commission.

Magda Kopczynska has written  on behalf of the European Commission, and laid out in explicit terms that the EU advised the Irish Government that compensation for CJ Gaffney could be drawn down under the European Fund for Maritime and Fisheries.

The stipulation is that the Irish Government has to do this themselves as the EU had no authority to put forward the request themselves. If the Irish Government did so, the funds would be granted. Yet they refuse to take this simple action that would bring to a conclusion an issue that has haunted the Gaffney family for years.

I previously wrote to both ministers who responded by attempting to pass responsibility to the other. I further wrote to both ministers requesting a meeting to clarify which one of them could deal with the issue. Neither replied to this request. 

I have also attempted to persuade the other four Wicklow TDs to work together on behalf of Gaffney. Unfortunately, only one of those TDs bothered to write back to Brady. The other three government TDs did not even bother to acknowledge the correspondence.

Which leaves CJ Gaffney, who told the Committee members today that they were his last chance of justice, without any support from government TDs.

Brady concluded: “I am calling on Taoiseach to directly intervene to force Ministers McConalogue and Ryan to end their roadblock and push through recommendations from the EU Commission. I am also calling for an inquiry to determine how this situation occurred in the first instance, and how it was allowed to go on so long.”

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