Shock at 'lenient' fine for fatal sinking

The leniency of a fine for a fisherman whose boat sank with the loss of five lives has shocked local people, a TD said today.

The leniency of a fine for a fisherman whose boat sank with the loss of five lives has shocked local people, a TD said today.

Pisces skipper Patrick Barden was found not guilty of manslaughter at Wexford Circuit Court yesterday but fined €1,000 for running an unsafe ship under 1981 legislation.

Five passengers died when the 26-foot trawler sank in July 2002 during an angling trip off Fethard-on-Sea, Co Wexford.

But local Fine Gael TD Paul Kehoe, who knows the families of the dead, said today that people are shocked at the leniency of the penalty.

“This case has caused real trauma over the last few days. I was on the quay in Fethard-on-Sea in 2002 and I have memories that I will never forget and thoughts I never want to go through again.

“The people of Wexford would be very shocked at the leniency of the fine.”

Mr Kehoe called for the 1981 Merchant Shipping Act to be overhauled by Marine Minister Pat The Cope Gallagher to include stiffer fines.

“I find it very hard to understand that it hasn’t been updated up to now,” he said.

The Opposition whip also called on the Government to implement the 20 recommendations made by a Marine Investigation Board inquiry into the tragedy.

The jury at the trial at Wexford Circuit Court yesterday found Mr Barden not guilty of five separate manslaughter charges relating to the four men and a boy from Co Wexford who died: James Cooney, 60, his son-in-law Seamus Doyle, 33, and grandson Mark, 13, John Cullen, 44, and Martin Roche, 67.

Mr Barden, from Fethard-on-Sea, was also found not guilty of reckless endangerment.

There had been no lifejackets aboard the vessel, which sank within one minute after it began to take water.

After the verdict, Mr Barden said in a statement that his thoughts were with the families of the passengers who died.

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