There have been a number of recent news items on the Celtic League website in regard to the ferry service to the island of Toraigh, which is 14.5 kilometres (9.0 miles) off the north-west coast of County Donegal, Ireland. The people of Toraigh are objecting to a 40 year old vessel, Queen of Aran, becoming the replacement ferry imposed on them by the Department of the Gaeltacht. They have been supported in their fight by the Celtic League and Irish language groups. The League, in a campaign led by its Irish branch, has said any ferry service must meet IMO SOLAS standards.
Bernard Moffatt President of Manx nationalist party Mec Vannin, also wrote a query on the issue to the Irish government. The reply is below in which the Minister assures safety standards will be adhered to. However, the reply does not mention Ireland’s obligations under SOLAS. The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is an international maritime treaty which sets minimum safety standards in the construction, equipment and operation of merchant ships.
Thank you for your emails, dated 10 and 12 February 2018 respectively, concerning the ferry service for Tory Island, off the north-west coast of Co. Donegal, which the Department of the Taoiseach forwarded to my Department for direct reply to you.
As the matters you have raised relate specifically to passenger vessels, I wish to confirm that all passenger vessels operating in Irish waters are required to be inspected and appropriately certified to confirm they comply with all relevant safety legislation.
I wish to advise that the Marine Survey Office, which is part of the Irish Maritime Administration and is based in this Department, has primary responsibility for the enforcement of maritime safety legislation in Ireland.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your bringing this matter to my attention and for your interest in, and concern for, maritime safety.
With best wishes,
Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport
The Minister is a Designated Public Official under the Regulation of Lobbying Act, 2015 (details available on www.lobbying.ie)
p&p Alastair Kneale, Celtic League