Written answers

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Marine Safety

Photo of Marc MacSharryMarc MacSharry (Sligo-Leitrim, Fianna Fail)
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258. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the implementation of the safety of life at sea convention in addition to the transposition of the EU recreational craft directive, the marine equipment directive and the organisation of working time for inland waterways. [44174/19]

Photo of Shane RossShane Ross (Dublin Rathdown, Independent)
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The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS Convention) is an international convention of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) relating to the safety of ships (both passenger ships and cargo ships of >500 gross tonnes) that are engaged on international voyages.  The Convention entered into force in 1980 and Ireland is a party to it since 1983.

The SOLAS Convention sets the international safety standards for ships’ construction, equipment and operation.  As a party to the Convention, and in its role as a Flag State, Ireland is responsible for ensuring and certifying that ships on the Irish register that undertake international voyages comply with the relevant SOLAS requirements, which vary according to the size of the ship and the year of construction. 

The SOLAS Convention is amended on a continual basis to take into account technical evolution and practical experiences.  Such amendments are made at meetings of the Maritime Safety Committee of the IMO, which are held once or twice a year, as decided by the Committee.

Primary legislation to give effect to the SOLAS Convention is provided for in the Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) Act 1952, the Merchant Shipping Act 1966, the Merchant Shipping Act 2010 and most recently in the Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships) Act 2014.  The Acts in general provide a framework for implementation of the SOLAS Convention through the making of secondary legislation containing the detailed technical Rules and Regulations. 

Numerous statutory instruments have been made over the years to give effect to the individual SOLAS Chapters and the subject matter contained in the Convention. Work is continuing in so far as is possible within existing resources to address ongoing IMO amendments.

Officials in the Maritime Safety Policy Division of my Department are working on a general scheme for a planned Merchant Shipping (International Conventions) Bill.  This is at the preparatory stages in my Department, prior to seeking Government approval for its drafting in due course.  The main purpose of the Bill is to provide the required legislative framework for Ireland to become a party to a number of international maritime conventions. The Bill also provides an opportunity to update the definition of the SOLAS Convention in primary legislation, which will enable Ireland to make the necessary statutory instruments to give effect to the latest amendments to the Convention.

Additionally, under Port State Control, foreign ships in national ports are inspected to verify that the condition of the ship and its equipment complies with the requirements of international conventions (including the SOLAS Convention) and that the ship is manned and operated in compliance with those conventions.

Port State Control inspections are carried out by the Marine Survey Office (MSO) of my Department while Flag State activities are undertaken by both the MSO and by authorised Recognised Organisations on their behalf.

As regards the transposition of the named EU Directives, I can confirm that Directive 2013/53/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 on recreational craft and personal watercraft (or the "EU Recreational Craft Directive") was transposed into Irish law through S.I. No. 65 of 2017 - the European Union (Recreational Craft and Personal Watercraft) Regulations 2017.

Directive 2014/90/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on marine equipment (or the "Marine Equipment Directive") was transposed into Irish law through S.I. No. 177 of 2017 - the European Union (Marine Equipment) Regulations 2017.

Council Directive 2014/112/EU of 19 December 2014 implementing the European Agreement concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time in inland waterway transport (or the "Organisation of Working Time for Inland Waterways Directive") entered into force on 12/01/2015 with a transposition deadline of 31 December 2016. 

The Directive aims to lay down more specific working time requirements for mobile transport workers in inland waterway transport (IWT).  Ireland supports Directive 2014/112/EU and believes that it is important to ensure the protection of workers and provide legal certainty for businesses and operators on inland waterways.   

However, in general terms Ireland is exempt from EU inland waterway Directives as they relate to waterways of a greater size and carrying a greater capacity of goods/passengers than exist in Ireland. Ireland’s inland waterways are not navigable for commercial traffic and Ireland does not have any interconnected inland waterway commercial transport for the purposes or on the scale envisaged in EU Directives for this sector.  Ireland keeps a watching brief on matters regarding inland waterways to ensure they do not conflict or overlap with existing legislation.


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