Whiddy Island: Concerns about marine safety passed directly to Taoiseach

The organiser of the recent 40th anniversary commemoration of the Whiddy island disaster is expecting a response from the Taoiseach after concerns about marine safety were passed directly to Leo Varadkar.

Michael Kingston, who lost his father in the 1979 disaster and who is also a special advisor to the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment working group, told attendees that the families of those who died were considering a High Court challenge to achieve “full disclosure” from the government as to what happened on the day of the disaster, as well as urging the government to ratify other laws that would improve safety at sea.

His comments were also addressed to Junior Minister Jim Daly who was in attendance.

A member of Minister Daly's staff wrote to Mr Kingston, telling him: “The Minister has sent your correspondence to the Taoiseach's office for his direct reply.”

In a response which he copied to all members of the Oireachtas as well as the French Ambassador to Ireland, Mr Kingston said: “I have heard informally from Government channels, that you will be in touch with me to ‘discuss a way forward’.

"You have of course also told me that An Taoiseach will be responding. I sincerely thank you Minister Daly for asking An Taoiseach to do so.”

Returning to the need for Ireland to increase safety levels at sea, he said: “I have been asked by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a hugely significant arm of the United Nations, whose security Council we as a Nation are seeking election to at present, to help them to get the Torremolinos Convention for fishing boat safety ratified which has been sitting on Government shelves since 1977, including Ireland’s.

"I was accompanied on Friday by their Maritime Director, who I have worked closely with, and she is very aware of the world turning up in Bantry to support respect for IMO UN regulation, and sent a message of support.

"We must enact maritime safety conventions so that they become law in Ireland and in other countries.

"It is no good saying we have mirrored some of their provisions via European Law, when a fishing vessel from outside Europe is in trouble and we have to deal with the problem in International waters.”

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