Lawyer: court ruling on safety board is ‘damning’

July 21st, 2020 10:10 PM

By Brian Moore

Michael Kingston: seeking meeting with Taoiseach.

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GOLEEN maritime expert Michael Kingston is calling for An Garda Síochána to carry out an investigation into what he claims is ‘misconduct in public office’ by the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport and the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB).

Michael Kingston, from Goleen and son of Whiddy disaster victim Tim Kingston, said he is requesting gardaí 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’.

Mr Kingston also said that he has written to Taoiseach Michael Martin, seeking an urgent meeting following the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) regarding maritime investigations.

The ECJ last week ruled against Ireland for fundamentally breaching European Law in the constitution of Ireland’s Marine Casualty Investigation Board. The court said the State’s marine incident investigating body is not independent, due to the presence of two civil servants on its board.

‘The ECJ ruling is damning in respect of Ireland’s failure to establish an independent maritime investigatory board,’ Mr Kingston said. ‘I have also been in correspondence with Garda Commissioner Harris, accusing 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 supported by whistleblower revelations, following which, a Garda review is ongoing.’

Mr Kingston, who is spearheading an imminent High Court application in respect of the Whiddy Island disaster, for the State’s failure to ensure maritime safety, slammed the State for defending the action. ‘It defies belief that the Maritime Safety Directorate of the Department would try and defend this position, costing the Irish taxpayer millions in legal fees, which could have been spent on rectifying our maritime safety framework. This judgment conclusively shows that the Irish State has denied the victims and their families those rights, and there must now be an immediate public enquiry as to how this has been allowed to occur.’

The Department of Transport issued the following statement: ‘The Department of Transport is examining the judgment in the case and is seeking legal advice to address the court findings and the concerns of the EU Commission.

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