Written answers

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Marine Accidents

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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45. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a matter (details supplied) in relation to a shipwreck will be examined. [23567/21]

Photo of Hildegarde NaughtonHildegarde Naughton (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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The relevant legislation in cases such as that referred to by the Deputy is the Merchant Shipping (Salvage and Wreck) Act 1993. This Act sets out the roles and responsibilities of a number of bodies.

Section 51 places the initial responsibility for removing a wreck on the owner of the vessel. However, if the appropriate authority, in this case Cork County Council, considers the wreck is or is likely to become an obstruction or danger to navigation or a threat of harm to the marine environment, or to related interests, which includes the health of the public, it shall proceed to raise and remove the wreck or otherwise render it harmless.

Section 40 of the Act provides that the Minister for Transport has the “general superintendence” of matters relating to wrecked or stranded vessels. However, further provisions outline the responsibilities from an operational perspective for other bodies.

Separate provisions apply regarding ownership, sale and proceeds for wrecks and a Receiver of Wrecks appointed under the Act deals with these matters.

As the appropriate authority under the Act, Cork County Council has taken the lead in dealing with the case in question and has taken a number of steps to date in their duties under the Act.

While the Act does allow for the removal of a wreck, it does not contain provisions in relation to the costs associated with the removal of a wreck where the sale of that wreck is not possible, and the owners of the vessel cannot be located. It is understood that no evidence of ownership or insurance has come to light yet in the case referred to by the Deputy.

Section 56 of the Act provides for an offence for a person to board or attempt to board any wrecked or stranded vessel without permission and also provides for an offence if a person interferes with a wreck in any way.

My Department has been represented by the Coast Guard at a number of inter-agency meetings on the matter. Furthermore, on foot of a recommendation in a report published by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) on the grounding of the wreck concerned, my Department has established a working group to explore the risks and potential costs to the State presented by derelict ships entering Irish territorial waters and coming ashore in Ireland and make proposals for means to identify, monitor, track and interdict derelict ships before they endanger other ships and seafarers in the vicinity.

My Department is available to attend operational inter-agency meetings on this issue. Furthermore, in light of the recent fire at the site of the wreck concerned, I have asked my officials to engage directly with Cork County Council as the appropriate authority, with a view to assessing appropriate next steps.


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