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How good is the Irish system of marine casualty investigation?

That issue was debated in the Dáil during the week when the new Marine Casualty Investigation Bill was introduced for its Second Stage. The necessity for the Bill follows the judgment in July of last year of the EU Court of Justice  against Ireland over the composition of the membership of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) having two Department officials on the Board. TDs from the Government Coalition, the Opposition and Independents criticised the Bill, claiming that it did not deal with fundamental problems in marine accident investigation.

A number of TDs called for a public enquiry into the Department of Transport’s handling of maritime search-and-safety. This reflects on-going challenges to the way in which the Department of Transport has dealt with marine investigations.

This situation has been led by the International maritime lawyer, Michael Kingston, of the Betelgeuse family support group. Commenting on the debate, he said that the Irish “system of maritime investigation has been broken for too long, with catastrophic consequences”  and the government is “not learning from tragedies, which is the whole purpose in international law for the State’s maritime investigative body.”

As the Bill proceeds through the Dáil the question raised – How good is the Irish system of marine casualty investigation? remains to be fully answered


A 46-year-old barge, with a lot of nautical miles under its hull, refurbished at a West Cork island’s boatyard under a Bord Iascaigh Mhara programme is leading a new development that can have widespread beneficial effects in the marine sphere. It is a fascinating project about which I will be reporting on the details in the December edition of the MARINE TIMES published next week. 


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Tom MacSweeney

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