Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are alternatives and may be discussed together.
Sea Pollution Bill, 1990: Committee and Final Stages.
Acting Chairman (Mr. Farrell)
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 6, subsection (1), line 12, after "a" to insert "suitably qualified".
This amendment is to highlight the critical importance of the inspector in this legislation. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that we prevent pollution at sea but unless we have a very strong and qualified inspectorate all the good intentions in the Bill are at nought. Unless we can be sure that the person in whom the powers to inspect shipping are vested is capable of fulfilling that duty in an efficient and expert fashion then we might as well throw our hat at it.
The purpose of this amendment is to try to tighten up not so much the powers but the qualifications of the inspectorate. There are four groups from which inspectors can be drawn: the surveyor of ships, a person appointed by warrant under section 20 which would be a special appointment by the Minister, an officer holding a rank in the Defence Forces and a member of the Garda Síochána.
The person most likely to be available is a member of the Garda Síochána. The powers of inspection would largely devolve to that individual simply because gardaí are to be found in every corner of the country. The Minister said he does not envisage that a member of the Garda Síochána would carry out a survey under section 3 but rather would board ships and look at documents and statements before ships leave port or when they come into port. That may be the intention but in practice I fear it will be the Garda who will deal with the vast majority of cases and it is very important to ensure that they are suitably qualified. In other words, specific training should be given so that members of the Garda Síochána know what they are loooking for.
A member of the Garda Síochána is trained in Templemore for two years and the whole direction of his or her duties is in relation to dealing with criminal law and with people on the street, not with ships at sea. I do not know if the Minister has any intention of consulting with his colleague in the Department of Justice to include an element of training that would deal with inspection of ships at sea or in ports.
It is very difficult to see how any member of the Garda Síochána can usefully inspect documents on board a ship. How will they know what is contained in the documents? There is very specific language used in cargo documents. How will a member of the Garda Síochána determine for example, if a ship is carrying a cargo of nuclear waste? What expertise will they have to determine whether that noxious substance is in the hold of a ship?
I am dissatisfied with the simple description given of what is required by a member of the Garda Síochána, particularly in view of the proximity of Sellafield and the lack of legal restrictions on shipping in relation to nuclear waste and nuclear reprocessing fuel. I would be very much concerned that we have expert people involved in the inspection. We must strengthen the powers and qualifications of the inspectors. The Minister is performing no useful function when he confers powers of inspection on a member of the Garda Síochána. They might just as well be conferred on a member of the public as there would be as much likelihood of their being able to fulfil properly the functions and duties of inspectors.
Ba mhaith liom foclaíocht na forála a athrú go "holding suitable marine qualifications". Tá sé fíorthábhachtach go mbeadh pé duine a bheadh ag plé leis an mBille seo cáilithe le freastal ar chuile ghné den Bhille. Dúirt an tAire go raibh ard-teicneolaíocht ag baint leis an mBille agus gurb é sin ceann de na fáthanna go raibh moill air; is é sin go raibh orthu a chinntiú go raibh an fhoclaíocht i gceart agus go mbeadh chuile shórt a bheadh ráite ansin in ann seasamh in aon chúirt dlí.
Feictear domsa go bhfuil an sainmhíniú ar chumhacht an chigire an lag i gcuid (d) den bhfo-alt sin — is é sin go mbeadh an surveyor cáilithe go maith, go dtuigfeadh sé cúrsaí suirbhéireachta bád agus go mbeadh sé in ann dul ar bord báid am ar bith agus na rudaí éagsúla atá le déanamh ag suirbhéir a dhéanamh. Thuigfinn go mbeadh fear a bheadh ceapaithe ag an Aire faoi alt 20 den Bhille seo ceapaithe go speisialta leis seo a dheanamh, agus go dtuigfeadh sé céard a bheadh ar bun aige, chomh maith leis an bhfear as an Arm. Nuair a thagann tú go dtí fo-alt (d) ansin níl ráite ann ach ball de na Garda Síochána. Tá fhios againn go léir céard le haghaidh Garda Síochána. Go bunúsach sé an dualgas atá aige ná an tsíocháin a choinneáil ar an dtalamh, ar an áit a bhfuil sé ag obair, bíodh sé i mBaile Átha Cliath, amuigh faoin dtuath, nó fiú amháin i gcalafort beag thiar i gConamara nó ó thuaidh nó ó dheas. Tá sé oilte go speisialta leis an tsíocháin agus an dlí a choinneáil ar an dtalamh. Ach níor casadh riamh ormsa fós aon gharda síochána a bheadh in ann dul ar bord loinge agus na dualgais mhóra atá air a chomhlíonadh.
Bíodh fhios againn go bhfuil dualgais an-mhór ann — is é sin go mbeadh cead aige long a ghabháil —"to detain", mar a deirtear sa Bhille. Ní amháin go mbeadh cead aige é a ghabháil, ach go mbeadh air dul ar bord agus mar atá ráite sa reachtaíocht, go mbeadh na dualgais nó na cumhachtaí móra atá ag cigire aige. Dúirt an tAire ar ball nach mbeadh air na rudaí seo a dhéanamh. Cén fáth, mar sin, go bhfuil sé mar chuid den Bhille? Tá sé ina chigire nó níl sé in a chigire. Tá Garda Síochána freagrach, de réir an ailt seo, mar chigire. Muna bhfuil le déanamh aige ach dul ar bord agus a chinntiú go bhfuil an tsíocháin nó an dlí á choinneáil agus go mbeadh tacaíocht le fáil ag fear éigin a bheadh ag dul ar bord mar chigire, ghlacfainn leis sin, agus thuigfinn é sin. Ach sa Bhille seo d'fhéadfadh cigire a bheith ina gharda nó d'fhéadfadh garda síochána a bheith ina chigire. Bheadh an stádas agus an chumhacht chéanna ag an bhfear sin is a bheadh ag surveyor a bheadh ag dul ar bord nó ag fear a bheadh ceapaithe go speisialta ag an Aire faoi alt 20 le dul ar bord.
Abair, mar shampla, nach mbeadh surveyor le fáil ar chósta Chonamara nó ar chósta an deiscirt nó áit ar bith agus nach mbeadh an tAire in ann fear a cheapadh mar chigire ar an bpointe boise. De réir an Bhille seo is cigire é an garda síochána cois chuain sa chás sin. Agus más cigire é tá cead ag aon gharda sin feidhmiú mar chigire faoin mBille seo, agus na dualgais mhóra throma aige mar atá léirithe in alt 21. Ní thuigim é sin nó níl mé in ann teacht ar réiteach go bhfuil gá leis sin nó go bhféadfadh an chumhacht sin a bheith aige faoin Bhille. Tá cead aige dul ar bord aon loing nó aon bháid a bhaineann leis an stát seo agus cigireacht iomlán a dhéanamh ar an mbád sin faoi chuile shórt atá ar bord — ó thaobh innealra dhe, ó thaobh an chaoi a bhfuil sé feistithe amach, agus mar sin de. Bheadh cead aige doiciméid a scrúdú agus iarraidh ar chuile dhuine a bheadh i gceannas an bháid sin na doiciméid chuí a chur ar fáil dó.
Cén bealach a d'fhéadfadh garda síochána doiciméid a bhainfeadh le riaradh loing mhóir nó báid bhig a scrúdú? Ní leor a rá nach mbeadh air seo a dhéanamh. Tá sé mar chuid den Bhille gurb é an chiall atá le cigire ná ball den gharda síochána. Tá an chumhacht seo á tabhairt againn dó.
Ar ndóigh, tá cumhacht amháin a bheadh sé in ann a dhéanamh go maith. Is é sin, mar atá ráite i bhfo-alt (c), go dtabharfadh an fear ar bord a ainm agus a sheoladh dó. Sin an chéad cheist a chuireann aon gharda síochána ar fhear nó ar bhean ar bith nuair a stopann sé iad ar an mbóthar nó nuair a bhíonn rud éigin á scrúdú aige —"cén t-ainm atá ort agus cén seoladh atá agat?" Agus scríobhtar síos ins an leabhar é. Glacaim leis go mbeadh sé cáilithe go maith chun sin a dhéanamh, ach ní ghlacaim leis go mbeadh sé in ann doiciméid a bhaineann le long mhór nó le long bheag nó bád de chineál ar bith a scrúdú faoin Bhille seo. Deirtear sa Bhille go mbeadh cead aige an long a ghabháil, ach ní thuiginn conas a bheadh an mion-eolas aige nó an mionstaidéar déanta aige chun é sin a chur i gcrích i gceart de réir an Bhille. Más Bille é seo go bhfuil feidhm le bheith air ní mór go bhféadfaimís a rá go huile is go hiomlán gur féidir an tAcht a níomhú.
Tá an dá fhocal móra Béarla, "shall" agus "may", luaite go forleathan sa Bhille seo. Tá an-deacracht agamsa leis sin agus baineann sé le go leor Billí a théann tríd an Dáil agus an Seanad, ach beimid á phlé sin ar ball. Mar gheall ar an sainmhíniú ar "chigire", ní féidir liom glacadh leis an bhfo-alt, agus tá mé ag iarraigh míniú i bhfad níos iomláine a fháil ón Aire.
Ba mhaith liom go n-inseodh an tAire dom cad iad an dualgais a bheadh ar gharda síochána sa chás seo. Má tá na dualgais seo le bheith aige is beag é na focail "holding suitable marine qualifications" a chur isteach. Tá mé cinnte go bhféadfadh sin a bheith mar chuid den chlár nuair a bhíonn gardaí á dtraenáil sa depot i dTeampall Mór nó áit ar bith eile. Níl aon fáth nach dtabharfaí traenáil speisialta mar chuid dá chúrsa do gach garda sa chaoi go mbeadh sé in ann dul ar bord agus na cáilithe mara aige le cúnamh a thabhairt don stát. Mura ndéanfear é sin níl aon éifeacht a rá sa Bhille go mbeadh cumhacht chigire ag garda síochána nach bhfuil cáilíochtaí de chineál ar bith aige len é a dhéanamh. Táim ag moladh go ndéanfaí an leasú dá réir sin.
Limerick West): I feel the Senators are losing the detail of this section. When a qualified garda is required, a garda with the necessary qualifications may not be available. This could happen if it were necessary to act promptly and a garda was needed to board a ship and question its crew or to detain a ship if there is reasonable cause to believe it caused or may cause pollution. The garda's function specifically is to detain the vessel within the jurisdiction until such time as fully qualified personnel are available. No particular marine qualifications would be necessary for the garda to carry out such a function. As I have already stated, if one had to wait for a suitably qualified garda or a garda with the necessary marine qualifications, a suspect ship could have left the jurisdiction and the whole purpose of this legislation would be defeated.
Members of the Garda are not empowered to carry out duties in respect of survey, inspection or test of ships under section 17. These functions are reserved for surveyors of ships and inspectors appointed by warrant under section 20 of the Act who would be suitably qualified. For those reasons, and indeed for the practical reasons. I have just outlined — and it is sheer practicality in this case — I cannot accept those amendments and I am opposed to them. I can see the point outlined by the Senators but in practice it cannot or will not work.
The Minister has contradicted what he said originally. He said in his reply on Second Stage that the function of the Garda would not be to carry out surveys but that they would have the function to board ships, to inspect documents and statements when a ship might be in port or before a ship leaves port. Now he is saying that their function would be to detain a ship until such time as a qualified person comes along. Do the Garda Síochána have the function to inspect? Is it a function to detain or a function to inspect? He has given us two different replies. If the garda has a function to inspect, as this legislation certainly defines and we must go on what the legislation says, he is one of the four inspectors. The unfortunate thing, however, is that we do not define the powers of inspection of each inspector and there is nothing in sections 17, 18, 19 or 20, Part III. Therefore, all we can do is take the Minister's word and I must say I regret that his word has differed on the two occasions he has addressed us on the matter. I am not sure what the powers of the Garda are to be and I fear that my worries will be justified, that the member of the Garda Síochána is the handiest person to call to the scene, and what will happen in practice is that calling in the person most readily available will be the norm in terms of inspection rather than the official or the expert envisaged in section 20.
It would be too easy to pull the wool over the eyes of an ordinary member of the Garda, and that is not casting any aspersion on the Garda Síochána but they would have no qualifications in the highly technical area of ships, documents and ships cargo's. I am not happy that the Minister has given us a satisfactory response and I am particularly concerned that there is no attempt to define what powers the member of the Garda Síochána will have under this legislation. I believe that we will end up with an inspectorate which is simply not qualified to do the job the legislation envisages.
Dúirt an tAire nach bhfuil le déanamh ag an ngarda síochána faoin Bhille seo ach greim a choinneáil ar an mbád go dtagann duine éigin atá cáilithe mar chigire. Más mar sin é, ba chóir go mbeadh sin mínithe sa Bhille. Tá ceithre cinéalacha cigirí ansin agus tá an chumacht ag aon cheann den ceathrar acu dul agus na dualgais atá ar chigire a chur i bhfeidhm. Ní rud uafásach teicniúil ag deireadh an lae dul isteach le cigireacht a dhéanamh ar bord loinge má tá cúig nó sé nó seacht rud le déanamh aige. Cén fáth nach mbeadh seo mar chuid de thraenáil aon gharda síochána, is cuma cé hé, i dTeampall Mór? Tá an-díomá ormsa go bhfuil gardaí síochána luaite sa Bhille seo gan aon traenáil acu an chumhacht atá acu sa Bhille a usáid i gceart.
Dúirt an tAire go mb'fhéidir nach mbeadh garda le fáil ag am ar bith. Tá mé cinnte de rud amháin, go mbeadh garda le fáil i bhfad níos sciobtha na suirbhéir, nó duine a cheapfaí faoi alt 20. Tá siad i ngach paróiste, nó bhí siad go dtí gur cuireadh deireadh leo i go leor áiteanna faoin tuath. Ach tá garda síochána le feiceáil i chuile chuid den tír. Níl mé a rá go gcaithfeadh céim dhlí a bheith ag an ngarda nó céim loingseoireachta ach, mar chuid dá chúrsa traenála go ndéanfaí an staidéar cuí, go mbeadh na rialacha ar eolas aige agus é i mbun a ghairme — bheadh sé seo úsáideach in áit ar bith sa tír.
Má tá garda síochána molta, de réir an Bhille seo, mar chigire, ba chóir go mbeadh sé ráite go soiléir cad iad na dualgais a bheadh air. Ní hamhlaidh an scéal agus tá faitíos orm nach mbeidh an Bille seo á fheidhmiú i gceart mar nach bhfuil an sainmhíniú ceart tugtha ar an obair agus ar dhualgais an gharda síochána.
(Limerick West): The Senators are missing the main point. The main point, in my view, is that it is important that the ship is retained within the jurisdiction. That is the sole purpose and function of the gardaí — to detain the vessel within the jurisdiction until a suitably qualified person, such as a ship's surveyor or somebody determined by the Minister, is available. One of the functions, among many others, of the garda is to detain the ship. I am not contradicting myself. If Senator Costello reads my Second Stage speech he will see there is no contradiction at all. We must have fully qualified personnel to inspect the ship. The amendment refers to suitably qualified people and the other amendment refers to holding a suitable marine qualification. Again the Senator, in his amendment has not outlined what “suitable qualification” or “suitably qualified” refers to. It is not possible for me to accept this amendment for the reasons I have just outlined. I want to repeat that it is important that the vessel is retained within the jurisdiction of the State if we have evidence that the ship has caused pollution or will cause pollution.
I do not want to continue this ad nauseam but I think it is quite an appropriate amendment because the qualifications that are required are contained in what is the substance and the purpose of the Bill. A “suitably qualified” person is a person who has the qualifications to carry out the intentions of this Bill. The purpose of this Bill is to implement the international protocol that was agreed, the MARPOL International Convention. That is what this legislation does and a suitably qualified person is a person who has the necessary qualifications to ensure that he or she can fulfil the proper functions of the inspectorate as outlined in the Bill. I do not think that needs to be defined any further because it is already defined in the context of the Bill.
Ach an oiread leis an Seanadóir Costello níl mise ag iarraidh go mbeimis ag plé na ceiste seo an lá uilig mar is rud teicniúil é, sa mhéid go bhfuil an-difríocht mheoin againn faoi céard is garda síochána cáilithe ann. Más aon chúnamh é don Aire, bheinn sásta glacadh leis an sainmhíniú atá ag an Seanadóir Costello, is é sin "suitably qualified", in áit an chinn atá agamsa, "holding suitable marine qualifications". B'fhéidir go mbeadh fadhb ag Aire ar bith ansin, go gcaithfí dintiúir bheith aige, go gcaithfeadh sé cúrsa speisialta mara a dhéanamh chun go mbeadh sé cáilithe. Ach maidir leis an méid atá ráite ag an Seanadóir Costello, go mbeadh sé "suitably qualified", d'fhéadfaidh a leithéid de chúrsa a bheith mar chuid de ghnáthchúrsa traenála an gharda. Mar shampla, déanann sé cúrsaí Gaeilge agus siceolaíochta — cén fáth nach bhféadfadh sé cúrsa gairid mara a dhéanamh a bheadh faoi réir fhorálacha an Bhille seo? Dá bhrí sin, iarraim arís go gcuirfí isteach sa Bhille sainmhíniú iomlán maidir le forálacha a bhaineann leis an nGarda Síochána.
(Limerick West): In a situation like this we have to consider what happens in practice. As I have already pointed out, in practice a garda can detain the ship, copy documents and interview the crew until such time as a person suitably qualified under the legislation is available. The important thing is that the ship is detained within the jurisdiction of the State. The Senator must identify “suitably qualified” personnel. It is not described in the amendment. Senator Ó Foighil said gardaí should be trained to acquire that qualification. That is a specific qualification, it is a special qualification. I do not think our gardaí can be expected to be fully qualified not alone in this specific area but in many other special areas as well. Unless their qualifications are defined, I have no doubt that the courts can and will challenge the qualification held by the gardaí.
- Costello, Joe.
- Doyle, Avril.
- Harte, John.
- Hourigan, Richard V.
- Howard, Michael.
- Jackman, Mary.
- Kennedy, Patrick.
- McDonald, Charlie.
- McMahon, Larry.
- Neville, Daniel.
- Ó Foighil, Pól.
- O'Reilly, Joe.
- Raftery, Tom.
- Ross, Shane P.N.
- Ryan, John.
- Staunton, Myles.
- Bennett, Olga.
- Bohan, Eddie.
- Byrne, Hugh.
- Byrne, Sean.
- Cassidy, Donie.
- Dardis, John.
- Fallon, Sean.
- Farrell, Willie.
- Finneran, Michael.
- Fitzgerald, Tom.
- Foley, Denis.
- Haughey, Seán F.
- Honan, Tras.
- Keogh, Helen.
- Kiely, Rory.
- Lanigan, Michael.
- Lydon, Don.
- McGowan, Paddy.
- Mooney, Paschal.
- Mullooly, Brian.
- Norris, David.
- O'Brien, Francis.
- Ó Cuív, Éamon.
- O'Donovan, Denis A.
- O'Keeffe, Batt.
- Ryan, Eoin David.
- Wright, G.V.
I move amendment No. 3:
In page 7, subsection (1), lines 30 and 31, after "submersibles," to insert "fish farms, having a recognised ship classification".
Tá deacrachtaí agam maidir le fo-alt (3) anseo, agus an sainmhíniú atá tugtha ar an bhfocal "ship" anseo. Níl mé a rá go bhfuil mo thaithí chomh mór nó chomh maith leis an taithí atá ag an Seanadóir Fitzgerald, atá os mo chomhair amach anseo, ach tá eolas beag éigin agam ar an bhfarraige. Tá deacrachtaí agam freisin le roinnt mhaith rudaí eile sa reachtaíocht seo mar nach bhfuil sé i nGaeilge, ach is scéal eile é sin agus níl mé ag dul a chur am an tSeanaid amú ag déanamh argóinte faoi sin.
Deirtear anseo, "a ship means a vessel of any type whatsoever operating in the marine environment". Anois, sin an chéad rud. Ciallaíonn sé árthach nó soitheach — soitheach an focal atá anseo, vessel, agus mar is eol dúinne agus don Seanadóir Fitzgerald, tugtar soitheach freisin ar bhád nó long sa Ghaeilge. Ach tugtar é sin i gcomhthéacs loinge, soitheach ar bith atá ag obair nó ag taisteal ar an bhfarraige. Tar éis na habairte sin, leanann sé ar aghaidh agus tá roinnt ainmeacha ar rudaí éagsúla go bhféadfaí long nó ship a thabhairt orthu in a measc siúd hydrofoil boats. Ghlacfainn leis sin; níl aon deacracht agam leis an bhfocal sin — tá rangú nó classification aige mar hydrofoil. Níl tada agam in aghaidh aircushioned vehicles ach an oiread, agus glacaim le submersibles mar longa faoin bhfarraige, nó báid faoi thuinn, submarines. Tá chuile shórt mar sin i gceist leis an gcineál sin míniúcháin. Ansin tá tagairt do shoitheach nó craft ar bith a bhíonn ag snámh ar an bhfarraige, ar nós ardán nó floating platforms, mar atá luaite anseo, agus tá mé ag glacadh leis go bhfuil sé ag caint faoi, b'fhéidir, na rigí ola sin atá amuigh ar an bhfarraige. Ciallaíonn sé sin gach rud atá ar an bhfarraige, atá sna longa sin agus atá, mar a déarfá, mar chuid de chomhdhéanamh loinge.
Is é an fáth go bhfuil deacracht agam ná go bhfuil leasú istigh agam anseo in a bhfuil mé ag tagairt do "fish farms having a recognised ship classification". Tá eolas agam ar an gcineál sin obair fharraige; go deimhin, bhí baint agam le comhlacht a raibh ceann de na feirmeacha éisc seo ar an bhfarraige acu agus is trua liom a rá nár éirigh linn ceal dhóthain infheistíocht airgid. Ach, é sin ráite, ba mhaith liom go dtabharfadh an tAire suntas don méid atá á rá agam, mar an tuiscint atá agamsa ar ship nó bád ná soitheach a bhfuil cláraithe nó registered ag an Stát. Ní féidir é a chlárú mura bhfuil rangú nó aicmiú — classifications — déanta ar an soitheach sin.
In alt 10 (3), tagraítear do "regulations under this section may relate to ships generally or to any class of ship". Tá an focal "rangú" tugtha isteach aige, is é sin "classification." Arís, deir alt a 14: "The Minister may by regulations require the owner or the master of the ship, or ship of a prescribed class," is é sin, é a rangú nó a aicmiú, classification a dhéanamh, ar aon soitheach atá ar an bhfarraige, bíodh sé ina long chogaidh, ina bhád faoi thuinn, ina long lasta, ina long phaisinéirí nó ina long phléisiúir — tá aicmiú déanta ar gach ceann acu. Tá sé ráite sa Bhille go mbeidh rangú déanta ar an gcineál soithigh a bheidh ar an bhfarraige, agus is ceart go mbeadh sé sin ann.
In alt a 16, deirtear, "sections 14 and 15 shall apply in relation to a ship and the owner of a ship registered in a country. Is é an chiall, atá mise ag baint as sin uilig ná, mura bhfuil rangú déanta air, níl aon éifeacht ag an mBille seo i leith soithigh ar bith ar an bhfarraige, a dtabharfaí long air. Tá an rud ceanna ráite in alt 23 (5):
The Minister may by regulations provide, in respect of ships generally or ships of any prescribed class,
Dúirt mé cheana, nuair a tionscnaíodh an Bille seo sa Teach, go n-árdóinn ceist rangú soithigh ar a ndéantar feirmeoireacht éisc. Dúirt mé ansin go raibh mé den tuairim go raibh easpa sa sainmhíniú atá tugtha sa Bhille ar bhád nó ar long. Níl aon tagairt sa sainmhíniú do bhád nó do long ar a mbeadh feirmeoireacht éisc ar bun. Deirtear go minic gur údar truaillithe iad na báid seo ach ní ghlacaim leis seo. Táim sásta go bhfuil rialacha dochta i bhfeidhm ag Roinn na Mara chun truailliú mara a sheachaint í gcás feirmeacha éisc agus go gcoimeádtar súil ghéar orthu.
Cúpla bliain ó shín chuir muintir Chonamara a gcuid imní in iúil don Roinn maidir le baol ó thubaistí mara mura gcoiméadfaí smacht ceart ar fheirmeacha éisc. Ba mhaith liom a chinntiú anseo go bhfuil an smacht sin i bhfeidhm agus nach bhfuil truailliú ag tarlú dá mbarr.
His Excellency, the Finnish Ambassador is in the House and we wish to welcome him and his party to the Seanad.
The Ambassador is very welcome here, to hear us debate in our native language, which you may not often hear in Dublin. Tá fáilte roimhe chun bheith ag éisteacht linn speaking in our own language, rud nach gcloistear go minic.
Ba mhaith liom pictiúir den fheirm éisc seo a thaispeáint don Teach. An bhfeiceann tu é sin?
It is well established practice that we do not illustrate our cases with visual aids in this House.
Maith go leor. Tá brón orm.
It may spare a thousand words.
A picture of Senator Doyle might but not a picture of the boat.
Labhair an Seanadóir Hederman ar maidin mar gheall ar thruailliú farraige. Is cuimhin liom í amuigh ar Inis Oírr, sna hOileáin Arainn, agus fad a bhí sí ag breathnú ar áilleacht na háite d'fhiafraigh sí díom cá raibh an fheirm éisc a ba chúis le truailliú an cheantair. Thaispeáin mé di í, amuigh ar an bhfarraige agus is é a dúirt sí ná nárbh fheirm éisc a bhí ann ach bád nó long. Táim go moladh an leasaithe seo mar faoi láthair níl aon éifeacht ag an reachtaíocht seo i leith soithí den chinéal sin, bíodh go ndeireann an Bille, "ship means a vessel of any type whatsoever. Ní mór go mbeadh rangú sa Bhille chun gach cineál báid a chuimsiú ann.
Is bád é an soitheach seo ach níl an Stát ag tabhairt aitheantais dó mar bhád agus mar sin ní thagann se faoi scóp an Bhille. Deirtear sa leabhar seo atá agam: "On the basis of analysis and model tests, Veritec, which is the Veritas Offshore Technology and Services Company in Norway, reviewed and discussed the conceptual design of sea-going fish farms. The Norwegian classification society decided that these farms could be operated within the Ship Class Notation of + I A I Bar Experimental."
Bhí an Noruaidh sásta aicmiú nó rangú a dhéanamh ar an gcínéal seo báid agus ainm a thabhairt air. Nuair tugadh an bád sin isteach in uiscí na tíre seo, d'áitigh mé féin agus daoine eile ar Roinn na Mara go dtabharfaí an aicmiú chéanna don bhád sa tír seo agus a bhí aige sa Noruaidh agus sa tSualainn. Dúradh linn nach bhféadfaí long nó bád a thabhairt ar a leithéid de shoitheach.
Tar éis go bhfuil tagairt arís agus arís eile sa Bhille seo do rangú agus aicmiú báid deir Roinn na Mara nach féidir an fheirm éisc seo a aicmiú mar bhád. Mura féidir, ní fheicim conas is féidir é a chuimsiú faoin mBille seo. Le cruthú do na Comhaltaí gur bád é, léim píosa eile as an leabhar. The boat was assembled in a dry dockyard. Construction work was surveyed on a daily basis by the local DNV office to ensure that the requirements for the class were met. Bhí coinníolacha ann sa Noruaidh chun an bád seo a rangú agus cén fath nach mbeadh? The overall length of this boat is 126.5 metres. Tá sé chomh fada le Paírc an Chrócaigh agus beagnach chomh leathan leis.
Nílimid ag caint faoi bhad ramhaíochta anseo; is long atá i gceist. The vessel is equipped as a boat with generators, a hull, machinery rooms, well-appointed accommodation including bunks, galleys, mess and lastly, offices. Like a ship it will need to be docked after ten years and every summer the hull will need to be inspected by divers. Is é an pointe atá á dhéanamh agam i leith truailliú farraige ná go bhfuil na mílte líotair ola ar stóráil ar an long sin agus tonnaí éisc bheo. Tá leithris agus gach áis eile air a bheadh ar ghnáth long agus tá baol ann go dtruailleofaí an fharraige maguaird dá mbeadh timpist ar an long.
Deirtear "any vessel of any type whatsoever" sa Bhille ach de réir Roinn na Mara ní "vessel" é seo ar chor ar bith. Ní mór rangú a dhéanamh ar aon rud ar an bhfarraige atá faoi cheannas na Roinne. Tá na focail "classification" agus "registration" ráite arís agus arís eile sa Bhille ach ní féidir an long seo a chlárú nó a aicmiú. Locht í seo ar an mBille maidir le sainmhíniú bád.
Tá rialacha dochta ann i gcás feirmeacha éisc in aice tíre lena chinntiú nach dtruaillíonn siad an talamh nó an fharraige ach sa chás seo ní gnáth fheirm éisc atá anseo ach long le hinnill, ola, agus daoine ina gcónaí air. Long dá leithéid seo a bhí i gcuan na Gaillimhe — níl sí ann anois, tá sé imithe go dtí an Fhrainc nó an Spáinn — d'fhéadfadh sí teacht isteach arís. Is mór an chontúirt é go mbeadh a leithéid de bhád nó de long ann agus gan cumhacht ag údáráis faoi théarmaí an Bhille seo. Ní bheadh cead ag cigirí dul ar bord nuair nach bhfuil sé aicmithe.
Molaim don Aire glacadh leis an leasú mar chúnamh don Bhille iomlán. Dúirt duine i gConamara liom nár chóir dom an cheist a ardú ar eagla go dtarraingeodh sé cigirí anuas ar an áit a chreidfeadh go raibh truailliú ag tarlú cheana féin. Ach dúirt mé leis gur chóir go mbeadh rialacha i bhfeidhm i gcás gach aon bhád agus is chuige sin atáim ag moladh an leasaithe.
Ní aontaím leis an leasú seo ná leis an méid atá ráite ag an Seanadóir Ó Foighil. Tá sé sásta go bhfuil gach rud cuí clúdaithe sa Bhille.
I do not support Senator O Foighil's amendment to insert "fish farms, having a recognised ship classification" because it would constitute a duplication. The definition of "ship" clearly states "floating craft and fixed or floating platforms and includes fixtures, fittings and equipment." I assume that this would cover fish farms and also all platforms and fixtures in oil and gas fields. I am satisfied there is no need whatsoever for this amendment to include fish farms because they are adequately covered under the term "floating platforms."
It is important that fish farms should be covered because they are a source of pollution of various kinds but I share the view of Senator Fitzgerald and I assume that that is the reply the Minister will give. When the Minister defines a ship as a vessel of any type whatsoever operating in the marine environment including hydrofoil boats and so on and floating craft and fixed or floating platforms it seems that the definition, to the ordinary mind, is sufficiently wide to include fish farms. The debate was useful and Senator Ó Foighil has done the House a service by clearly specifying and indicating that people are concerned about the pollution created by fish farms. It would have been no harm to specify "fish farm" in the Bill because it would have indicated our concern and perhaps for that reason the Minister might graciously be prepared to include the phrase.
The Governments amendments have been tabled so the question of recommitting the Bill to the Dáil will not create a difficulty and the addition of that phrase might help to indicate to the industry the priority awarded by this House to the question of fish farming. I am satisfied that fish farms could be deemed to be included in the definition given in the Bill.
I support Senator Ó Foighil on this amendment. If I felt the Minister's definition of "ship" would embrace fish farm barges as we know them or cage barges I would have no fears at all but, as of now, we do not register or classify these cage barges. Under normal ships classification I understand they will escape the rigours of this Bill when it becomes law and this is the difficulty.
We have not devised a special classification to register fish farming barges. The definition would appear to cover any type of vessel on the seas but if any type of ship means a registered ship or a classified ship we need clarification on this point from the Minister. The only type of craft on our seas that is not, to my knowledge, at this time classified are fish farming platforms and fish farming barges, and until they are classified in the marine classification system they will escape the rigours of this Bill if and when it becomes law. We need clarification from the Minister that the will either include in the classification system fish farm barges or cage barges and platforms which will then come within the meaning of "ship" as here defined, or that he will specifically include them here, apart from the registered ships generally included under this definition as a ship. I hope I make myself clear.
We all want to see the rigours of this Bill applied to fish farming barges or cage barges. We would hate to think that fish farms under a technicality, because they are not classified or registered anywhere, would slip out of the net of the Bill. That needs clarification from the Minister.
(Limerick West): I share the concern of the Senators. I should like to read the relevant part of the Bill where it says:
"ship" means a vessel of any type whatsoever operating in the marine environment and includes hydrofoil boats, air-cushion vehicles, submersibles, floating craft and fixed or floating platforms and includes fixtures, fittings and equipment.
The specific specialised structures which the Senators who have expressed their concern have in mind would be comprehended, in any event, in the definition of "ship" as given in the Bill. I am also advised that if I were to accept the Senator's amendment it would narrow the definition of the ship to exclude all fish farms without a recognised ship classification. The definition of "ship" in this Bill is wider than in the Merchant Shipping Acts which govern other regulations in shipping.
Senator Ó Foighil also mentioned the general prohibition of pollutants referred to in section 10. This would apply to the structure which the Senator has in mind, even if it is not registered or does not hold ship classification. I am satisfied that the concerns of Senators are fully covered in that section.
Tá cuid den mhíniú sin glactha agam. Céard atá i gceist leis an bhfocal "ship"? Dár liomsa, ní mór do Roinn na Mara glacadh leis go bhfuil rangú ann do gach "ship"— báid iascaigh, báid mhara, long, etc. Níl an bád nó an fheirm éisc a ndearna mé tagairt dó roimhe seo rangaithe agus nuair nach bhfuil, ní thagann sé faoi rialacha na Roinne. D'áitigh mé ar an Roinn "long" a thabhairt ar an bhfeirm éisc seo agus má thagann sé faoin sainmhiniú atá tugtha sa Bhille seo ar "ship" cén fáth nach n-aithníonn Roinn na Mara mar long í faoi láthair? Sin í mo dheacracht.
Luaigh an tAire morán cineálacha báid ach dhiúltaigh Roinn na Mara an bád nó an long seo a aicmiú mar long. Conas mar sin ar féidir é a reimniú faoin mBille seo? Bheimís sásta dá ndearbhódh an Roinn gur long de chineál a ghabhann le feirmeoireacht éisc atá anseo againn agus d'fhéadfaí é a chlárú dá réir sin. Ach níor tharla sín go fóill.
(Limerick West): I just cannot follow the logic of the Senator's argument.
Is trua é sin.
(Limerick West): As a matter of fact, the Senator is speaking against his own argument. He is by the proposal of his amendment, confining and narrowing the definition of “ship” to exclude all fish farms without a recognised ship classification. Of course a ship is a ship, I agree with that but the amendment would narrow the definition. I want to have a wider definition and I want to have that definition covered, in this instance, by regulation which would apply under section 10 of this Bill. What I have included in this Bill fully and totally satisfies the Senator's demands in this amendment.
Tá an tAire ag cur rud i mo leith nach bhfuilim in ann a fhreagairt. Nílim ag iarraidh an sainmhíniú a chúngú ach é a leathnú amach. Chomh maith lena bhfuil sa Bhille, tá mé ag iarraidh ar an Aire "a recognised ship classification" a chur isteach freisin. Is trua nach dtuigeann an tAire mo loighic, mar tá sé an-simplí. Ciallaíonn "long" árthach nó soitheach agus aontóidh an tAire liom go gcaithfidh gach long réimniú a bheith aici, is cuma an bád faoi thoinn, long chogaidh nó long iascaigh atá i gceist. Tá aicmiú déanta ar gach chineál loinge a luaigh an tAire ansin ionas go dtagann siad faoin mBille seo ach dhiúltaigh an tAire an bád a thagair mé dó a aicmiú. Gan aicmiú ó Roinn na Mara, ní féidir an long a réimniú agus gan réimniú níl aon neart ag an mBille seo ina leith. Má deirtear liom nach bhfuil sé sin loighiciúil, tá rud éigin bunúsach mí-cheart leis an mBille. D'fhiafraigh mé den Aire an gcaithfeadh rangú a bheith ag long faoin mBille seo? Má fhreagraíonn sé go gcaithfidh rangú a bheith aici, deirim leis nach bhfuil an Bille seo ceart.
My concern is to have confirmation from the Minister that this would be a correct interpretation of what is in the Bill: that all fish farming, registered or unregistered, classified, or unclassified, comes strictly within the ambit of the Sea Pollution Bill. If that is so, would the Minister consider putting down an amendment of his own, if he is not prepared to take the amendment in the name of Senator Ó Foighil, to demand the definition of "ship" to read as follows "a vessel of any type whatsoever operating in the marine environment and includes hydrofoil boats, air-cushion vehicles, submersibles, floating craft, fixed or floating platforms and all fish farming and includes fixtures, fittings and equipment." Why not include those words in the section or would the Minister suggest another wording if he is not prepared to accept this.
(Limerick West): If I put down an amendment of my own at this stage it would be duplication——
There is duplication of all the other things then, too.
(Limerick West): The Senator's concern and that of her colleague is already met in this section. There seems to be confusion with regard to the classification of ships. The ship classification system governs ships capable of navigation only. This Bill governs floating structures not capable of navigation. There is no problem with regard to the Senators' concern. I and my officials in the Department would be as much concerned with regard to this problem as Senators are but it is already covered in the Bill and I do not see any purpose in amending the Bill either by way of accepting an amendment from the Senator or putting down an amendment of my own. It is already covered and I am satisfied it covers all problems that may arise in the future.
Glacaim le míniú an Aire ach ní thagaim lena thuairim mar gheall ar rangú nó "classification." Rinneadh iarracht chun "fish farms" a rangnú; níor éirigh linn agus ní leanfaimid leis.
I would like to raise another point on this section; it concerns the definition of an "owner". The Minister may recall that I mentioned on Second Stage the major difficulties that arose at the time of processing the cases in the Amoco Cadiz disaster some time ago. Much responsibility was evaded because of legal wrangling over the definition of owner.
It was discovered in relation to the Amoco Cadiz at the time that there was a parent company to which the owning company belonged. There was also an operating company, subsidiary to the owning company. This operating company chartered the Amoco Cadiz to another company. There were, therefore, four layers of ownership in one degree or another. The only people who became wealthy in all of this, to my recollection, were the legal people who had a most dreadful job to discover who was actually responsible for the damages caused at the time.
I would like confirmation from the Minister that this definition of owner will be tight enough to ensure that no one avoids or evades their responsibility through a legal loophole. This has adversely affected much legislation in relation to the sea and shipping and maritime affairs over the years. I do not see any difference in the definition of owner, from, for example, the Oil Pollution of the Sea (Civil Liability and Compensation) Bill, 1987 which I considered totally inadequate. The International Maritime Organisation has expressed concerns about the evasion or avoiding of responsibility through technical legal loopholes in the defiition of those with ultimate responsibility.
(Limerick West): I am satisfied that the owner of a ship is sufficiently defined in this section because it states:
"owner", in relation to a ship, means the person registered as the owner of the ship, the person who owns the ship, and in the case of a ship which is owned by a state (including the State) and is operated by a person who in that state is registered as a ship's operator; "owner" means the person registered as such operator;
I am satisfied that the Senator's fears in that respect are unfounded.
I think it is worthwhile putting that on the record because, as the Minister stated in the Second Stage speech, all maritime legislation is fraught with legal difficulties because of the layers of law both national and international that are involved. I would hate to think anyone could evade their responsibilities if damage were done to our coastline. I thank the Minister for confirmation in this respect.
Senators Ó Foighil, Costello and Norris have indicated their opposition to this section.
I would like to indicate that I propose to oppose this section vigorously. I understand the Minister suggested that it is not legally possible for us to drop this section because we have no mechanism for bringing warships to court. I dismiss that. I do not believe it to be the case and neither do any of the environmental organisations who have briefed me. In fact, they are all unanimous in saying that the exclusion of warships, contemplated in this section, makes a farce of the entire Bill. On Second Stage I indicated that, from time to time, up to one-fifth of the nuclear arsenal in the United States is floating around in the Irish Sea. We worry about fish farms but they are a comparatively mild form of pollution. The excrement of fish may be noisome, it may be damaging to the environment but it is not half so damaging as the risk of a nuclear accident underwater.
I have here a briefing document from Earthwatch and this is what they say:
The Minister, in his speech introducing the Bill [in the Dáil] attempts to justify section 4 by reference to the MARPOL and Intervention Conventions and the Oil Pollution at Sea Act of 1956. It is true that MARPOL itself explicitly exempts warships (Article 3 (3)), and only half-heartedly addresses this problem by placing an obligation on Contracting Parties to see that their own warships act in a manner consistent with MARPOL, and even then only provided this does not impair the operations or operational capacities of such ships. However, this is simply a glaring deficiency within the MARPOL convention and one which the Government should seek to remedy within the International Maritime Organisation at the earliest opportunity.
As an independent and still, despite the efforts of Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Collins, a theoretically neutral country we should be using our participation in Conventions like MARPOL to broaden a coalition against nuclear weapons, instead of kowtowing and being a lickspittle to the hawks in the international community and tolerating this invasion of our seas by highly dangerous, lethal craft. I think I am correct in saying Dublin has declared itself a nuclear free zone. Perhaps my distinguished colleague Adlerperson Carmencita Hederman can confirm this——
Yet we have nuclear-powered warships and ships containing nuclear warheads coming right into the centre of the city of Dublin, the greatest population concentration in the entire island. The Minister is not doing anything about it because we are acting as a lickspittle to "Big Brother" in the United States. To continue my quotation from the Earthwatch document:
Furthermore, there is nothing in MARPOL to prevent Contracting Parties applying many of the controls envisaged in the Bill to foreign warships, as an additional measure strengthening their national legislation.
In other words, the Minister is, not deliberately I am sure, misleading the House, when he maintains there is a legal contradiction. There is no such contradiction. There is nothing to prevent us as an independent Republic amplifying and strengthening our own legislation. The fact that MARPOL is defective does not mean that we must follow its defects. We should do something positive.
I would like to ask the Minister, what are our priorities. Do we give a higher priority to playing host to American warships containing nuclear bombs than to the protection of our civilian population? It seems to me that by putting section 4 into the Bill we are saying it is more important for us to kowtow to the nuclear powers than to protect our citizens. Exempting warships from the provisions of the entire Bill is completely unimaginative. Perhaps there are specific problems for specific warships. If so, let us have it out in the open. Let the Government, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Justice or the Department of the Marine, deal with it on a case by case procedure. In that way, if anybody wants warships to be exempted let them come upfront; let the Irish people know what is going on in the seas surrounding this country. Let the United States Government or the British Government make the case that for strategic or tactical reasons they must have an exemption. We should not give them a blank cheque as this Bill does.
It is the height of irony that a neutral, non-nuclear country goes out of its way to sacrifice the rights of its citizens. I believe this pathetic evasion of responsibility was entered into as a result of international diplomatic pressure. Can the Minister confirm this? Are there external forces operating here?
We have gone through this in a number of previous Bills. We looked at the question of the American Government's policy of refusing either to confirm or deny that they have a nuclear arsenal on board their ships. We know, as a matter of fact, that nuclear warheads are quite frequently introduced into the waters of this country and right into the heart of the capital city of Dublin but we choose to turn a blind eye to it because we are lickspittling the American Government.
I firmly oppose this section. I call upon any Members of this House committed to a non-nuclear policy for this country and to neutrality to show where they stand on this issue by voting with me against this dangerous, unnecessary and slavish exemption.
It is quite wrong that this exemption should be given. I was not at all impressed by the Minister's statement that it is an accepted principle of international law. It seems to me, as Senator Norris said, that it is up to us to decide what we want to do. Would it not be nice, for a change, for lovely, green Ireland to give a lead in an environmental matter?
Earlier, a Senator held up the Environmental Action Programme to show how well the Minister, the Government and everybody were doing. We all know it was a nice glossy magazine, designated to impress but why do we not give a lead, when we have the opportunity? I am not at all impressed that other countries are not doing this when I see what other countries have done in the area of environmental pollution. That great country, Germany, has polluted its industrial cities. In its woods trees are dying rapidly because of pollution. The water is polluted; everything there is polluted. Why should we follow the example of such countries? Ireland has a reputation it badly needs to affirm, of being environmentally friendly, but we are slipping back very rapidly. We were once recognised as a “green” country, but no longer. Pollution is pollution and whether it comes from a warship or from any other kind of ship makes no difference whatsoever. If we take pollution seriously, what would come from warships is far more dangerous than any of the other types mentioned in this Bill. Let us, if necessary, give a lead and not just go along with the accepted principle, in international circles.
(Limerick West): Subsection (1) covers Article 3 (3) of the MARPOL and Article 1 (2) of the Intervention Convention, which exempt naval vessels and vessels used by the government of any country for non-commercial purposes. This exemption is a standard feature of international maritime conventions. Indeed, contrary to what Senator Norris said, it is included in the MARPOL Convention which it states that:
The present Convention shall not apply to any warship, naval auxiliary or other ship owned or operated by a State and used, for the time being, only on government non-commercial service. However, each Party shall ensure by the adoption of appropriate measures not impairing the operations or operational capabilities of such ships owned or operated by it, that such ships act in a manner consistent, as far as is reasonable and practicable, with the present Convention.
Article 1 (2) of the Intervention Convention states:
However, no measures shall be taken under the present Convention against any warship or other ship owned or operated by a State and used, for the time being, only on government non-commercial service.
As a general rule of international law warships and State-owned ships are immune from proceedings in a foreign court. Senators should be aware of this. Foreign naval vessels are entitled under international law to traverse the territorial waters of another state in exercise of the right of innocent passage. Should the Oireachtas seek to apply the provisions of this Bill to foreign warships it would be contrary to the general rules of international law. We are subject to international law like any other country. There is no possibility of a foreign state permitting its warships to submit to the jurisdiction of the Irish courts. Any attempt by the Irish State to enforce the provisions of this Bill against a foreign warship is likely to be resisted, to provoke an international incident and ultimately is likely to be unsuccessful.
We are not living and cannot live in splendid isolation. Moreover, Article 29.3 of the Constitution states: "Ireland accepts the generally recognised principles of international law as its rule of conduct in its relations with other States". Therefore, it is possible that the bringing of proceedings against a foreign warship in the Irish courts may be judged unconstitutional, being contrary to the generally recognised principles of international law.
I referred to Article 3 (3) of the MARPOL Convention. Irish naval vessels are not bound by the Bill but, having said that, my Department are now taking up with the Department of Defence the question of naval vessels setting a good example and following the objectives of the Convention. I have no doubt that the Naval Services will do so and Senators need have no worries on that score.
Subsection (2) provides for where the application of any provision of the Bill, when enacted, to a particular class of ship would be unreasonable or impracticable and enables the Minister, by regulation, to exempt such ships if he is satisfied that such an exemption would not result in an increased risk of pollution. An example of where the strict application of the MARPOL regulation might be considered unreasonable or impracticable is the requirement to fit a sewage treatment plant to all ships certified to carry more than ten persons. Nuclear ships carrying nuclear waste are not exempt under this section.
Bhí an-imní orm nuair a léigh mé nach mbeadh aon chumhacht againn faoin mBille seo maidir le longa cogaidh a thiocfadh i ngar dár gcósta. Tuigim tar éis ráiteas an Aire go bhfuil dualgas orainn cloí le dlithe idirnáisiúnta mara atá i bhfeidhm. Is trua liom áfach go bhfuil eisceacht á dhéanamh sa Bhille do longa cogaidh agus nach bhfuil deis againn a chinntiú nach mbeidh longa cogaidh ag gabháil trí fharraigí na hÉireann. Má ghlacaimid leis an Single European Act ní mór duinn glacadh le achtanna idirnáisiúnta eile agus tá sé mínithe ag an Aire go gcaithfimid glacadh leo ar mhaithe le comhoibriú domhanda.
I do not accept what the Minister said. He misunderstood what I said because if he checks the record of the House he will find that I accepted the existence of the exemption in MARPOL. I acknowledge it exempts warships and I said that. I also said that is no reason for us to follow the defective example of MARPOL. I do not accept that it conflicts with international law. If it did this country should be lobbying for a change in international practice.
I would like the Minister to explain how it is that New Zealand prohibits the passage of nuclear warships through its territorial waters. I have yet to see an Irish Government attempt anything as courageous as that and I would like to see us doing it. It might not perhaps be so convenient for our masters in other countries who are dictating the policy of this island in that matter. It might be a little inconvenient or uncomfortable to have a little David standing up to the Goliaths of this globe but it would be important that we do that.
I quote further from Earthwatch:
This clause — Article 3 (3) of MARPOL — was clearly inserted at the behest of the more hawkish military powers and has no place in Irish legislation. Nor is it required to be there for us to comply with MARPOL.
This is the official position of Earthwatch. I would like the Minister to reconsider what he is saying in the light of the risks to which the Irish people could easily be exposed as a result of a melt down in a nuclear reactor, for example, in a submarine.
(Limerick West): We cannot live in splendid isolation. There is no question of conforming to the dictates of our masters. The MARPOL Convention is not defective. New Zealand does not allow nuclear ships into its ports and we do not allow it either.
That is incorrect. The Minister spoke about innocent passage. He is the biggest innocent in this House if he is unaware of the proven fact that ships carrying nuclear warheads are routinely in the port of Dublin. The Minister may not live in Dublin. I do not know where he lives but I assume he is on the same planet as I am on. I am a citizen of Dublin and I greatly resent, as do the vast majority of the citizens of Dublin, the risk which I am exposed by the Government's policy. It is not sufficient for us to accept the American policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence of nuclear warheads on these vessels. It is a proven fact that warships carrying these instruments of mass destruction do arrive here.
Can the Minister give a definition of "innocent passage". Is a ship carrying a primed nuclear warhead at the disposal of the executive of another State innocent passage? How innocent is that passage? If it is potentially lethal and could cause considerable destruction, long term pollution in the Irish Sea or in a port, how innocent does the Minister imagine that passage to be? What does the term "innocent passage" mean? I can tell you what it means to the ordinary citizen and I do no think it means what the Minister is calmly trying to lull the House into assuming that it means. Is "innocent passage" just the travelliing through our waters of any vessel belonging to one of our allies?
(Limerick West): I am sure Senator Norris knows the answer to that question. There is no need for me to confirm the situation. I am living in the real world. I do not think the Senator is living on the same planet as I am. We are not conforming to the dictates of any state but to normal international law laid down by the conventions I have mentioned and by the Constitution of this State. It is not at the behest of any international organisation or country. We cannot live in splendid isolation and I have no intention of doing so.
Perhaps the Minister will clarify this for me. Suppose a warship were to flush out its tanks for one reason or another such as hygiene, as an economic measure or just for the fun of it, following the exemption provided in this Bill, what recourse would the Government have? Suppose the captain of a warship decided to discharge a considerable cargo of oil or chemicals into the sea, what would the Minister and his Government do about it? Would they just say: "Thank you very much, that was very innocent of you. We are Irish people and we will not live in splendid isolation; we are delighted to be polluted by you, please call back and do the same next week." What would the Government do about it? What powers have they got? What would be their attitude?
(Limerick West): I repeat that MARPOL 3 (3) states:
The present Convention shall not apply to any warship, naval auxiliary or other ship owned or operated by a State and used, for the time being, only on government non-commercial service. However, each Party shall ensure by the adoption of appropriate measures not impairing the operations or operational capabilities of such ship owned or operated by it, that such ships act in a manner consistent, so far as is reasonable and practicable, with the present Convention.
That explains the position clearly and answers the Senator's question specifically.
I do not think it answers the question. It raises other doubts. It makes the matter one of greater concern.
What the Minister is saying is that MARPOL does not apply to these ships but that each country can do its own thing. That is what I understand the Minister to say. If each country does its own thing, each country will take appropriate measures to deal with it. What measures are we taking to deal with it and what measures are we taking to deal with the grim, and I hope unlikely, scenario that Senator Norris outlined a few moments ago?
What the Minister read out — with the least respect not to the Minister but to MARPOL — is a lot of pious twaddle and the Minister knows that. It has no binding effect whatever. It is aspirational. It means nothing whatever. It says you ought to behave in a nice, good way and be good citizens. It has no force or legal stance. It is aspirational and does not have any impact on the situation. We should address that in this Bill. It is pathetic.
I said on Second Stage and I repeat that the reason this Bill is so empty is given away in the explanatory memorandum. It says the main purpose of the Bill is (i) to ratify the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973; (ii) to accede to the Protocol of 1978 ... (iii) to accede to the Protocol relating to Intervention ... These are the three reasons. That is a fascinating insight into the Government's psychology. The only reason we have a Bill to control pollution in the sea is because 16 years after the event we are catching up with the minimum of international legislation. It is not acceptable for the Minister to say we have to do it because it is in MARPOL. I have stated that I believe MARPOL is defective and I am supported in this view by a number of environmental organisations. MARPOL is weak in this respect but that does not mean we have to be similarly weak.
MARPOL is probably now pathetically antiquated and out of date. It is 17 years since it was introduced and everybody knows that environmental legislation needs constant updating. We should be going a little ahead of the minimum contained in MARPOL.
(Limerick West): Rather than the Minister and the Department being pathetic the Senators concerned are pathetic given their approach to this Bill. We cannot live in splendid isolation. We cannot accept the good things and reject the bad. We are part of an international organisation and we must realise that. We cannot legislate for warships of another country. Such legislation would not stand up in court. I am living in the real world. The difference between the Senators and me is that I must ensure that this legislation stands up in court.
What is the reason for the exemption apart from the fact that the Minister believes there is an obligation in international law? That is arguable and I do no think it is as watertight as the Minister suggests. If it were we should test it. What is the thinking behind it? Why should warships be exempt? Are all warships exempt? I understand that it may not always be practicable for us to intercept or arrest a warship but we should seek with the fullest vigour to ensure that they do not pollute our seas. Warships are among the principal traffic in our seas. The Minister is exempting a considerable class of ship. That is dangerous.
What are our territorial waters? Do we not have any jurisdiction with regard to military craft? There are incidents from time to time, as the Minister knows, where military vessels in the British naval service are stated to have intruded into Irish territorial waters. Could the Minister comment on that? According to the Minister they can float around anywhere they like. British warships can sail into Dún Laoghaire harbour without as much as a by your leave. Is that the case? Are there no regulations governing this? If there are regulations, why do we not have them upfront and why do they not include pollution?
(Limerick West): The Senator is exaggerating. We have to be practical. It is included in the MARPOL Convention and in the international convention. I will not repeat them as I have already quoted them on a number of occasions. Article 29.3 of the Constitution states:
Ireland accepts the generally recognised principles of international law as its rule of conduct in its relations with other States.
It is possible that the bringing of proceedings against a foreign warship into Irish courts may be judged unconstitutional, being contrary to the generally recognised principle of international law. Therefore, there is little point in bringing proceedings against any warship if we find at the end of the day it is a useless exercise.
The question is: "That section 4 stand part of the Bill". On that question a division has been challenged. Will those Senators calling for a division please rise in their places?
Senators Norris and Hederman rose.
As fewer than five Senators rose in their places I declare that the question is carried.
The names of the Senators who rose will be recorded in the Journal of Proceedings of the Seanad.
It is important that we had that vote even though it was a failure from my point of view. We have actually passed into law a provision which exempts any ship, not just warships——
Where were the other Independent Senators for that vote?
Amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 6 are related and may be discussed together.
Senator Costello is on official business in Brussels and he asked me to move his amendments for him. I move amendment No. 4:
In page 9, subsection (1), line 4, to delete "may" and substitute "shall".
I am not going to waste the time of the House because these arguments are frequently made. It is the same argument in principle. It is the old business of deleting "may" and substituting "shall". In other words, it is to make something aspirational into a reality, to make it a requirement. It is simply a drafting matter strengthening what is the wish of the Minister in the Bill.
(Limerick West): I am opposed to these amendments. I think the effect would be to deprive the Minister of his discretionary role in deciding the content of the regulations to be made by him under the Bill when enacted. There are a number of sections which are enabling sections which enable the Minister to make the necessary regulations. The use of the word “shall” instead of “may” would not, as may be perceived, impose a time limit on the introduction of regulations. The content of the regulations to be made by the Minister will be determined by him on the basis of what is necessary in the Irish context to ensure full compliance with an enforcement of the MARPOL convention. Amendment No. 5 would have the effect of requiring the Minister to prescribe exemptions to regulations prohibiting the discharge of oil or other substances even if no exemptions were justified.
I move Amendment No. 7:
In page 9, between lines 24 and 25, to insert the following new subsection:
"(6) The Minister shall by regulation require the notification at such time and at such place as may be prescribed, by the masters or owners of all ships travelling in or through Irish territorial waters."
The intention is to extend the provisions of the Bill, to cover the notification by masters and owners of ships travelling through so it deals with the question of passage through Irish territorial waters. In other words, they need not necessarily be destined for an Irish port or coming from an Irish port. They could be simply passing through. It prescribes a requirement for the masters or owners of all ships to notify the Government of their passage.
(Limerick West): I am opposed to this amendment because, in my view, it is unnecessary. Section 23 (5) of the Bill states:
The Minister may by regulations provide, in respect of ships generally or ships of any prescribed class, for—
(a) the giving by the owner or master of a ship of notice of the entry or intended entry of the ship into the State and of its passage and destination while in the State and such other information relating to the ship and its cargo as may be prescribed.
The State is defined as including the territorial waters of the State. I feel the concerns of the Senator are fully addressed in the Bill.
Amendment No. 8 is a Government amendment. Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 are alternatives and both may be discussed together.
I would like to welcome the Government amendment. It is perhaps in response to the amendments I put down. I was contacted by an official of the Department yesterday but unfortunately I was going to a meeting and I was not able to return the phone call. I am very glad the Minister has taken on board the sense of my amendment which is to delete the phrase "reasonably necessary," the simple argument being a thing is either necessary or it is not. The phrase "reasonably necessary" is a nonsense. I am very glad the Minister has seen the virtue of this case. He has taken a slightly different approach to mine. He has separated the two concepts and he has introduced the phrase "necessary and reasonable." I am very happy with the Minister's amendment and I welcome it.
I move amendment No. 10:
In page 9, lines 33 to 40, to delete paragraph (b).
I am moving this because it appears the regulations in section 10 do not apply to the discharge into the sea of any oil, oily mixture, noxious liquid substance, harmful substance, sewage or garbage which results from any damage to a ship or to its equipment provided that all reasonable steps have been taken after the occurrence of the damage or, as the case may be, the discovery of the discharge, to prevent or minimise the discharge and where the owner or the master did not act with intent to cause damage. It is far too wide an exclusion. What are "reasonable steps"? There is such a margin of appreciation there and it also means that pressure, for example, could be brought by a big international combine on a Government to excuse them from the operation of this Bill using this section. I am opposed to exemptions particularly this exemption because it is so very — and in my opinion — unnecessarily wide.
(Limerick West): I am opposed to this amendment for the reasons that the paragraph referred to is based on the annexes to the MARPOL Convention. To delete this paragraph would make an innocent party in a collision responsible for any discharge from his ship even if he had taken all reasonable steps to prevent or minimise the discharge and did not act recklessly or with intent to cause damage. The Senator's amendment would be unjust.
I accept the validity of the Minister's argument but that should have been expressed. What the Minister said is reasonable, that the innocent victim of a collision at sea should not be penalised. I accept that absolutely but I wish the Minister had put that into this section instead of once again relying on MARPOL. I wish we had a little bit of legislative imagination. What the Minister has said is eminent, sound, good common sense and I accept it. It is a pity it was not expressed. I wish we showed a bit more imagination.
This section is directly related to the MARPOL Convention and the Minister's response was logical and reasonable. The Minister stated, if I understood him correctly, that an exact section from the MARPOL Convention was being included in this Bill and he has not departed from the wording of the MARPOL Convention. Could he confirm a point I referred to in my Second Stage contribution, that as this Bill is ratifying the conventions the exact wording of the conventions is included in it? Certainly in the Oil Pollution Bill, 1987 introduced in both Houses to ratify other conventions, there was a departure from the wording of the conventions. The maritime legal view at the time was that we were leaving ourselves open to unnecessary risk because we did not use the exact wording of the conventions while we were ratifying them. I accept that we are ratifying them with determined legislation and we should take on board the exact wording. Can the Minister confirm that the conventions referred to in this legislation are exactly as they are on the conventions?
(Limerick West): Yes.
I move amendment No. 11:
In page 10, subsecton (1), line 13, after "provision" to insert ", subject to available staffing and resources,".
(Limerick West): I am opposed to this amendment. The Senator's amendment, if accepted, would subvert the entire Bill. The amendment would enable harbour authorities to opt out of their responsibilities to provide reception facilities for ships' effluent. Without reception facilities ships would discharge their effluent into the sea. The Bill enables harbour authorities to make reasonable charges and impose reasonable conditions in respect of the use of facilities. Properly managed, there is no reason why such facilities should not be self-financing.
May I pursue this with the Minister? For many years, since local authorities have no longer been financially autonomous, they have been depending on block grants from central Governments of all political hues. The grants have been inadequate over the years and are decreasing in real terms. If we are going to heap an extra financial responsibility on to our maritime local authorities without providing the financial resources for them to comply with it we are almost asking the impossible. As we speak, local authorities are begging the Government to indicate what the block grant will be for next year alone. They do not even know what moneys they will get for what are already their areas of responsibility. This Bill, if enacted, will increase the financial burden and the financial requirements of these local authorities if they comply with it as they must.
Will the Minister indicate if the resources necessary for the initial capital works that will be necessary to provide, for example, the disposal facilities, inspection facilities and so on will be recoupable from his Department. I accept the point that they can charge for services but it will take 20, 30 or 40 years worth of charges to repay the capital outlay that will be necessary initially.
For local authorities there is a serious imposition if the Minister does not provide the financial resources and, perhaps, also staff resources. There will be the necessity to retrain staff members if they have to be appointed harbour masters in the local authority harbours which this Bill requires. I come from a maritime county and we have five or six local authority harbours in that county. We also have the only Iarnród Éireann harbour that is referred to in the Bill, Rosslare Harbour. I am seriously concerned about the local authorities' ability to have trained harbour masters at all ports and to provide the initial capital to put in the facilities that this Bill requires. I ask the Minister to recognise this and the reality of the financial position of maritime local authorities and to provide the necessary resources as this amendment effectively points up.
(Limerick West): I am referring to harbour authorities, not local authorities. The section states that a harbour authority or persons having control of a harbour authority or providing facilities for the discharge or the disposal of oil, oily mixtures and so on, may make reasonable charges and impose reasonable conditions in respect of the use of any facilities so provided. I am referring to port authorities and not local authorities. I have no doubt that port authorities can make this facility self financing. There is not all that much capital cost involved — very little indeed — and it can be self-financing.
I do not know whether the Minister is deliberately trying to be disingenuous. I do not think he is because he has been very reasonable all through the passage of this Bill today but the definition section states:
In the case of a harbour under the control of a local authority, the local authority concerned;
It is to those harbours under the control of the maritime local authorities that my remarks are directed. There is no harbour authority in Kilmore Quay. There is no harbour authority in Courtown Harbour. There is no harbour authority in Duncannon Harbour. Wexford County Council will now be the harbour authority and the harbour master, as required by this Bill, will be an appointee of that local authority. Wexford County Council — and I know I speak for all the maritime county councils — cannot afford to put in the disposal facilities in all the harbours. I am sure we have a dozen small harbours on our coast but I am picking out the five or six big ones where there might be ships of any size docking. Certainly if every harbour in a maritime county has to have its own harbour authority structure and a harbour master appointed, staff and financial resources will have to be provided by the Minister for the local authority concerned.
(Limerick West): A harbour authority and a harbour master would not necessarily be appointed for the purpose of the amendment we are referring to. If they were being appointed they would, of course, assume the responsibility of implementing this section. This section refers generally to the bigger ports of Cork, Dublin, Limerick and so on. In relation to the smaller ports referred to by the Senator the local authorities will be the harbour authorities in those cases. The facilities that would have to be provided for taking in the sewage would have to be provided locally and would be provided by the local authority but, as I said, the amount would be so insignificant that it would be self-financing. We are not talking about big money.
This section applies to any harbour in this State and I read the first and second lines of section 12 (1). Given what the Minister has just said, do I take it that every harbour in this State does not have to be provided with the facilities, for small or large amounts of the discharge of oil and noxious substances, garbage, etc? My concern at the moment is the local authority harbours because they cannot finance what they have to do at the moment, let alone taken on an extra burden. If every harbour in the State has to have these facilities, the local authorities will need help in financing them. The capital initially will have to be provided. It will be paid back over the years through charges but you could be 20 years before some of the smaller harbours could recoup sufficient in charges to repay the initial outlay. The second question is, will each harbour in the State have its own harbour master designated by the local authority or will one maritime county have a master who will serve six or seven harbours along the coast, as we have in Wexford? We have many harbours but only six or seven that would be of any account.
(Limerick West): In reply to the second part of the question, not necessarily for the purpose of this section. It will be a matter for the local authority or somebody else to set up a harbour authority and appoint a harbour master if the occasion arises. What I am saying is that it will depend solely on the amount of traffic in any particular harbour and the size of the facility that will have to be provided and basically will be self-financing. If the local authority is in charge of a harbour, say, as County Wexford, the capital outlay will be very small indeed. It may be almost nil because there may be no traffic in those harbours for this type of business.
I do not think we are getting anywhere. I can see problems arising in this area. If a boat docks in one of the small harbours around our coast and the local authority have not provided the facilities for discharging garbage, sewage, waste oil, etc. at that particular harbour because it is small, could the master or skipper of a ship feel he has reasonably complied with the section Senator Norris referred to and discharge into the sea because the facilities had not been provided by a local authority as they did not expect the amount of business to be such as to justify the facilities?
(Limerick West): The Senator is putting words into my mouth, things I did not say at all. Of course, the local authority have an obligation to provide the facilities but what I have just said is that in certain harbours, for instance the ones she outlined, the facilities required will be very insignificant because the overall traffic will be very small.
They need the same facilities whether there is a lot or a little garbage, the basic facilities have to be provided.
Amendments Nos. 12 and 13 are alternatives and may by discussed together.
As I indicated, Senator Costello asked me to move his amendments but on this occasion I proposed to move amendment No. 13 in my name. Since the two amendments relate to the same area, it would be contradictory for me to move his amendment No. 12.
Very well. You may move amendment No. 13.
I move amendment No. 13:
In page 17, subsection (5), between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following new paragraph:
"(c) regulating the entry into Irish territorial waters of any foreign ship, submarine or hovercraft prior to any grant of permission for such entry or passage and requiring the production of a certificate from the relevant foreign State authority that the ship, submarine or hovercraft in question does not carry any nuclear explosive device or any nuclear waste.".
This is a very important amendment. Once again it addresses the question of the neither confirm nor deny policy of governments like the United States Government. This gets around that difficulty by requiring the production of a certificate from the relevant foreign State authority that the ship, submarine or hovercraft does not carry any nuclear explosive device or any nuclear waste. The Minister indicated earlier that in his innocence he did not believe that any of these weapons had ever been introduced into Irish waters. If he actually believes that, there is no reason for him not to introduce this requirement. It simply lets us all share the Minister's confidence.
I am glad we had the opportunity to move this amendment. The arguments have been made in other places and at other times and earlier this afternoon I made some of these arguments on a previous amendment. I would like to give the Minister an opportunity to respond to this amendment in which I am confident I will have the support of Fine Gael for the very simply reason that I lifted it from a Fine Gael amendment in the Dáil. It is one with which I strongly agree, so I am sure Fine Gael will feel it is a worthy amendment and perhaps the Progressive Democrats and even some of the Fianna Fáil members will too.
We will not be bullied.
Casting about for support.
(Limerick West): I am opposed to this amendment because section 23 (5) (b) enables the Minister to make regulations preventing the entry into the State of a ship carrying a harmful substance. Nuclear waste could be described as a harmful substance. Warships have a right of innocent passage through territorial waters under international law. The regulation of entry of foreign warships into Irish ports is a matter for the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It is present Government policy to refuse entry into Irish ports of any visiting naval vessel if it is carrying nuclear weapons or the visit is part of a naval exercise.
Have they ever so refused? I have to say he is just kicking for touch, he is kicking it into the court of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I do not blame him. It is an obvious tactic. I suppose if I were there I might do the same thing. Can the Minister tell me of any single occasion on which a ship has been refused entry because it was carrying nuclear waste or carrying nuclear weapons? I do not believe there is any such instance, and I would welcome it if the Minister would place some examples on the record.
(Limerick West): I can assure the Senator that this Minister never kicks for touch, and certainly not into the territory of any other Minister. The question he has asked is a matter for the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I cannot answer it.
The Minister has said on the record of the House that he is not aware of any instance whatever, in which the Government have refused entry to a ship because it was carrying an atom bomb, because it had nuclear waste, and we all know this happens regularly. In other words, the Government policy is not acted upon. They have a policy but they do not act on it. They never act on it, they never have acted on it, and they never will. That is why this amendment is so necessary.
(Limerick West): In respect of the Senator's recent comments, even if I was aware of a situation such as you have just outlined, I doubt if I would be outlining it here in the House.
Do the Government conceal from the Irish people the fact that nuclear warships regularly visit Ireland?
(Limerick West): The Senator can put any interpretation he likes on it.
This may have been an amendment put down by Fine Gael in the other House, but an assumption that we, in this House, are not thinking people and cannot make up our own minds, would be a very wrong one. I would like to point out there is no Fine Gael name to the amendment on the list of amendments here today for a very good reason. Having viewed and read the debate in the other House and the response and having discussed the matter with our colleagues there we felt that the amendment was not appropriate. I have stated many times my views on the discharge of nuclear waste into the Irish Sea and on the unnecessary risk from BNFL and Sellafield to the Irish economy with no economic benefit accruing to us.
We are inclined to be emotive and to overreact without thinking clearly the moment nuclear explosive devices or nuclear or radioactive waste is mentioned. We need a balanced approach to ensure we will get our own way ultimately. It is not sufficient to react from the heart; we must balance that with clear concepts when we get onto this very difficult subject of nuclear warheads, nuclear waste, radioactive discharges etc. That amendment does not have the support of the Fine Gael Party although we have our own concerns in this area.
I would like to echo the last part of what Senator Norris said concerning the treatment of visiting warships in our waters here and the fact that none of us knows quite what is happening or how they are being handled. May I ask the Minister under what legislation in the Department of Foreign Affairs he is acting or has discretion to act to refuse right of entry to ships?
(Limerick West): I do not have that information now but I will let the Senator have it.
There is not enough time here this afternoon obviously to debate this matter fully.
We can continue until we finish.
Thank you. There are a number of well documented instances of nuclear accidents aboard submarines, both American and Russian. The consequences of these nuclear accidents which on some occasions resulted in the loss of the submarine or the sinking of a ship have been determined. I am not discussing a hypothetical situation; I am talking about something that has occurred, that is statistically likely or inevitable and it is quite possible that such an incident could occur in Irish waters.
I have serious concerns about the powers being conferred in relation to the detention of ships under this section. My concerns could not be allayed by a three or four line amendment and hence no amendment has been tabled. I have no difficulty with any powers conferred on the State or any officer of the State to detain ships in criminal cases; I am concerned about detention of ships in civil cases and what appears to me to be a usurpation of the power of the Admiralty Marshall. I also think this section is in breach of the 1969 civil liability convention which I assume we must adhere to as we ratified it in the Oil Pollution Act four years ago. I would like a full explanation from the Minister as to how an inspector or a harbour master who can be any garda, qualified or otherwise as we determined at length before lunch, can now detain a ship without a prima facie case, or without resorting to a court order for a ship's arrest and still remain within the powers of the Admiralty Marshall. The power of detention is detailed in several subsections of section 24. Given that all ships have to carry compulsory insurance — we have conventions to cover all of that — what will be the need to detain a ship that has caused problems if its insurances cover is adequate? I would like the Minister to explain how he feels we comply with the civil liability convention.
(Limerick West): This section authorises an inspector or harbour master in the harbour area under his control to stop and detain a ship which has caused or may cause pollution in the territorial waters of the State. A ship may be released if it has ceased to be a cause of pollution or a serious threat to living marine resources. A ship may also be released to effect repairs at the nearest repair yard if the master of the ship undertakes to have defects remedied at that yard and puts forward security to cover the cost of carrying out any necessary alterations or remedy any pollution damage which may be caused on the voyage to the yard. Article 5.3 of the MARPOL Convention provides for granting permission to proceed to the nearest appropriate repair yard.
Senator Doyle also asked about the inspector or harbour master. Section 24 (1) enables an inspector or harbour master to stop and detain a ship if he has reason to believe that it has caused or may cause pollution. The power of detention is given to an inspector in section 22 (2) but only where he is satisfied that the ship or its equipment does not comply with its MARPOL certificate or is so defective as not to be fit to put to sea without being a threat of pollution. This subsection allows an inspector or harbour master to detain a ship for the purpose of inspecting the ship, examining its records and, if necessary, examining witnesses. This is detention on suspicion of committing a criminal offence. It is not an arrest on foot of civil action.
Do I understand then that this section deals only with the risk of a criminal offence? I accept the assurances then. I spoke at length on that point on Second Stage and if the Minister had referred to that when he was replying it would have been very useful but he did not.
I still have concerns about a point I raised on Second Stage. Section 36 is the amendment of the continental Shelf Act. May we have an indication from the Minister as to where the functions of the Environmental Protection Agency Bill, soon to become an Act, the Marine Institute Act and now this legislation overlap. I am talking particularly about responsibility for the environment of our estuaries and of the Continental Shelf area. When I spoke to the Environmental Protection Agency Bill there was major confusion between it and the Marine Institute Bill as to who had responsibility for our waters. Now this Bill purports to take on board responsibilities in the same area for environmental problems such as dredging harbours. May I ask the Minister to clarify to the House who is responsible for the marine environment in our estuaries? The position of local authorities might also be clarified since they have responsibility down to the high water mark, if I understand correctly. Problems could arise in the environment of an estuary that would emanate from a local authority area.
The proposed legislation is confusing. Will the Minister outline the exact responsibilities under this Bill to protect our environment and our estuaries, a very important aspect? What are the responsibilities under the Environmental Protection Agency Bill and the Marine Institute Bill and where does ones responsibility begin and the other end?
(Limerick West): The section states:
The Continental Shelf Act 1968 is hereby amended by the substitution for section 7 of the following section:
I do not see any reference to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The section provides for amendments to the Continental Shelf Act, 1968 to bring them into line with the provisions of this Bill. Government decision of 17 May 1990 approving text of this Bill was subject to amending this section to cover all territorial seas. The amendment will apply to pipelines used for offshore exploration operations and so on and to any operation for the exploration of the sea bed. There is no reference to the Environmental Protection Agency in that section. I like to be relevant all the time.
The Minister may like to be relevant all the time but he cannot answer my simple question. He does not need a geography lesson; he is a wise and experienced politician. I take it he understands where the Continental Shelf lies and how it surrounds the country and that most estuaries will open into the Continental Shelf. My question is quite relevant. If the Minister wants me to go through the sections of the Continental Shelf Act I can. I am prepared to stay here until 8 p.m.
(Limerick West): So am I.
My concern is where the responsibility for the marine environment of estuaries which open into the Continental Shelf begins and ends. Is it the responsibility of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Marine Institute Act or of this Bill?
(Limerick West): Again the Senator is rambling. Usually the Senator is very relevant and I wish to compliment her on that. Pollution from ships into the sea, estuaries, rivers and lakes comes under this Bill. Section 36 applies to offshore platforms only.
The Minister cannot answer my question.
Government amendment No. 14 is consequential on Government amendment No. 15 and both may be discussed together.
(Limerick West): This amendment provides for the repeal of section 448 (2) of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894. That subsection gave the owner or master of a vessel power to throw dangerous goods overboard if they had been sent or brought aboard a vessel without being marked or without notice having been given. This power is considered contrary to the spirit of this Bill. A master may under section 11 discharge harmful substances for the purpose of securing the safety of a ship or saving life at sea if such discharge was, having regard to all the circumstances, necessary and reasonable. It is inappropriate to throw dangerous goods overboard except when safety is at stake. I commend that reasonable amendment.
“57 & 58 Vic., c.60
Merchant Shipping Act, 1894
Subsection (2) of section 448”
When is it proposed to sit again?
It is proposed to sit again on Wednesday, 13 November 1991 at 2.30 p.m.