Unseaworthy boat was adrift off Skelligs, court told

A boat was drifting north of the Skellig Michael world Heritage site and its sister island, with passengers on board — just six days after an inspector from the Department of the Marine warned the skipper it was unseaworthy, a court heard.

Cahersiveen District Court was told there were eight passengers on board the Pace Arrow III, on May 21, 2014, when it was seen by other Skellig boatmen to be in difficulty and drifting “north of the Skelligs”.

Six days earlier, on May 15, a Department of Transport inspector had arrived down to Ballinskelligs Pier to look at the vessel, which had applied for a renewal of its passenger licence to operate to the Skellig Islands.

The owner of the Pace Arrow III, Gary Feehan, of Dungeagan, Ballinskelligs, is charged with operating without a licence “in the waters near the Skelligs” on May 21, 2014, contrary to the Merchant Shipping and Maritime Safety Acts. A second charge relates to the seaworthiness of the vessel.

The skipper on the day, Gary Feehan’s father, Sean Feehan, also known as John Paul Feehan or Sean Feehan Sr, of Dungeagan, Ballinskelligs, faces the same charges.

Solicitor for the pair, Padraig O’Connell, said his clients would be pleading not guilty and would “totally refute the allegations.”

The judge said he was declining jurisdiction in both matters and was adjourning the matter for a book of evidence to be prepared and sent to the DPP for direction.


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