Fishermen given probation act as judge calls them ‘men of integrity’

Captains fishing boats were arrested by Navy for breached regulations

Two fishing boats seized by the  Navy moored in Clogherhead, Co Louth. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Two fishing boats seized by the Navy moored in Clogherhead, Co Louth. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

 

The captains of two small Northern Ireland registered fishing boats who breached fishing regulations in a Co Louth bay have been given the benefit of the Probation Act after a judge said he believes they are “men of integrity” and that he did not think a conviction was appropriate.

Fishermen Jack Brown (56) and Kevin Trainor (46) were arrested on Tuesday afternoon after they were observed by the Irish Navy fishing in their boats for shellfish in the exclusive six mile Irish territorial limit in Dundalk Bay.

Their ten metre boats — named Boy Joseph and Amity — were detained in Dundalk Bay by the LE Orla and escorted to Clogherhead harbour in Co Louth.

When both boats were inspected there were “modest quantities of shellfish” which has since been disposed of, Drogheda District Court heard.

Mr Trainor’s catch of shellfish was estimated to be worth €1,200 while Mr Brown’s catch was estimated to be worth €2,000.

The court heard that both fishermen breached a Supreme Court decision that ruled in 2016 that a “gentlemen’s agreement’ dating back to the 1960s to allow fishermen from the Republic of Ireland fish in a six mile limit in Northern Ireland and vice versa, was invalid.

State solicitor Fergus Mullins said “unfortunately these men continued to fish in Republic of Ireland’s waters to try and increase their fishing catches.”

He also said both men were fully co-operative and when their boats were seized it was “quite an imposition on them as they could not pursue their livelihoods.”

Sgt John Heavey of Dunleer Garda Station said both men have no previous convictions.

Brown, of Rooney Park, Kilkeel in Co Down and Trainor of Casement Park, Kilkeel, Co Down pleaded guilty at Drogheda District Court to fishing within the exclusive fishery limits of the State contrary to Section 10 of the Sea Fisheries & Maritime Jurisdiction Act 2006.

They further pleaded guilty to entering within the exclusive fisheries limit of the State at a time when it is not lawful contrary to Section 8 of the Sea Fisheries & Maritime Jurisdiction Act.

The State solicitor told the court the Director of Public Prosecutions directed summary disposal of the case, where, upon conviction the maximum fine is €5,000.

Barrister for both men, instructed by solicitor Hugh Kennedy, asked the judge to afford both men the Probation Act and that they could made a donation to charity.

In giving both men the benefit of Section 1.1 of the Probation Act, Judge Coughlan said:

“It appears to me that these men are people of integrity. But I am bound by a Supreme Court decision. They should be dealt with with absolute discretion and leniency.

“A reciprocal arrangement was reached in the 1960s but I am bound by the Supreme Court decision.

“I do not think they should have a conviction. Republic of Ireland fishermen are presently fishing in the six mile limit in Northern Ireland waters and should be dealt with leniency,” said Judge Coughlan

He also set aside a detention order for the immediate release of both boats.