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Two Civil Servants Step Down from Marine Casualty Investigation Board

13th September 2020
Two Civil Servants Step Down from Marine Casualty Investigation Board

Two civil servants have stepped down from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB), following a European Court of Justice ruling which found it lacked independence.

As The Sunday Times reports today, Ireland is not appealing the recent EU court judgment, according to the Department of Transport.

It is understood the Irish state is still liable for legal costs over its decision to challenge the European Commission’s issue with the board’s make-up.

The EU had taken issue with two of five board members being Ireland’s chief marine surveyor and the Department of Transport secretary-general’s nominee.

The EU said that the responsibilities and activities of both the transport department and Marine Survey Office (MSO) could conflict with the investigative task.

Confirming the resignations of both civil servants, the MCIB said it had been “advised that vacancies will be filled in accordance with standing Government policy after the introduction of legislation to give effect to the recent decision of the European Court of Justice”.

The Department of Transport said it has “sought legal advice on legislative and administrative options to address the court findings and the concerns of the EU Commission, and is currently examining same”.

The EU court judgment was published earlier this summer, two years after it initiated its case against Ireland over the MCIB’s lack of independence.

It found that Ireland was “not fulfilling its obligations under Article 8(1) of Directive 2009/18” governing the investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector” .

In its defence, Ireland had argued that the MCIB reports are independent.

The MCIB is responsible under the Merchant Shipping Act and the Merchant Shipping Regulations for conducting investigations into marine casualties in Irish waters and Irish-registered vessels.

It is a non-prosecutorial body which does not enforce legislation, and its investigations do not apportion blame or fault, but recommendations have regularly been made to the Irish minister for transport.

However, almost 300 of its reports on commercial fishing and recreational casualties, and incidents involving ferries, ships and other vessels have been made public since its establishment 20 years ago.

Read The Sunday Times report here

Published in MCIB
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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