A WEST Cork lawyer has accused the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport and the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) of ‘misconduct in public office’ in respect of current marine tragedy investigations.
Michael Kingston, whose father Tim perished in the Whiddy Island tanker disaster, made the statement on Wednesday, the 41st anniversary of the tragedy, outside Garda HQ. The international maritime expert, originally from Goleen, met with An Garda Síochána to deliver his letter of accusations.
Mr Kingston is currently spear-heading an imminent High Court application in respect of the Whiddy Island disaster.
He is accusing the State of failing to ensure the independence of the MCIB ‘contrary to clear international rules and European law’.
He is requesting that An Garda Síochána investigate the ‘fundamental and criminal failings of the State in investigating maritime accidents, as a matter of urgency in order to save life and to establish the fundamental rights of victims in death and those of their family members in investigations’.
He says his detailed allegations, that include claims of misconduct in public office by MCIB members and DTTAS officials, follow months of investigation and multiple whistleblower revelations from former officials, or marine accident investigators, some of whom claim that investigators’ reports are being changed, and families never know what finally happened or when it happened. ‘Details are removed because it will reflect badly on the marine department’, one whistleblower told him.
Another claimed: ‘Several incidents involving our rescue services have gone without investigation where critical lessons have not been learnt which has, almost undoubtedly, contributed to further loss of life. There have been loads of cover-ups. I will tell you that for a fact.’