The Bill applies mainly to ships registered in the State and ships which mainly go from a port in a State and back to that port again. The Minister has mentioned that there is secondary legislation coming from the EEC. At the moment, have we port regulations which can prevent ships which do not come up to a certain standard from entering our ports?
Merchant Shipping (Certification of Seamen) Bill, 1979: Committee and Final Stages.
I am not sure if we have the power, but we would not wish to discourage shipping unnecessarily. We have a power to prevent them from leaving if we suspect that there are deficiencies. I think that was the primary purpose of the Senator's query.
From the point of view of entry, can we, on inspection, prevent a dangerous ship on arrival, from berthing and tell it to get out?
The principle as regards a ship which was unsafe entering would probably mainly arise in the case of oil tankers. There are regulations which would assist us there. In the case of other ships I should imagine that the most important thing is that if a ship arrives—and it is normally difficult to inspect it until it does arrive—and it is discovered to be below standard, then action can be taken to prevent it from leaving until it, in effect, is seaworthy in the sense of complying with the relevant regulations. We cannot interfere at will with foreign ships on the high seas, only within our own territorial waters. Does that answer the Senator's query?
Even though our standards would be higher than the foreign standards? Could ships of an inferior standard ply between our ports, or would they be subject to our standards once they come in?
The regulations being provided for under this Bill would enbrace every ship or vessel of consequence, including fishing vessels and trawlers and also ships which would not be Irish registered ships but foreign registered vessels carrying passengers between places in the State. The only category that the Bill will not cover is foreign ships coming into our port from abroad.