Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said he expects to receive wide-cross party support for his Private Members Bill which is to be the subject of a two-hour Dáil debate later today. Deputy McGrath was speaking ahead of the Second Stage debate of his Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) (Amendment) Bill 2019, which aims to revise the requirements for composition of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board:
“What this Bill seeks to do is to remedy the quite frankly ludicrous position whereby there is no legal obligation whatsoever on the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport or his agents to ensure that members of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board have maritime or marine-accident experience.
If this Bill is accepted and passed, it will strengthen the onus on the Minister and his agents to ensure that qualified and suitable candidates are selected for the membership of the board. Maritime experience should be a prerequisite-just as it the case in the UK.
The Bill could not have come at a more appropriate time either given that the European Commission has referred Ireland to the EU Court of Justice for failing to uphold EU law on “impartial” investigations of marine incidents.
As recent media reporting on the matter has noted, this is because the EU has expressed a number of concerns about the independence of members of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) and the presence of the Department of Transport’s secretary general or nominee, and the Marine Survey Office’s chief surveyor on the board.
This clearly represents an obvious avenue for conflicts to interests to occur.
As I understand it the EU in this ruling has also found that the board of the MCIB “lacks the necessary independence” from the Department of Transport and the Marine Survey Office (MSO).
These are exactly the kind of related matters that I have been highlighting for some time now. We need a board where expertise and skill in marine casualty investigation is the priority and not whether or not the members happen to know the Minister of the day,” concluded Deputy McGrath.
Notes to Editors:
Link to Deputy McGrath’s PMB and First Stage speech can be found here: