Zigzagging boat blocked cruise ship entering Dublin Port, court told
Boat occupant says it is ‘their God given right to go up and down [Liffey] river as Dubliners’
The court heard that entry of the Corinthian, a 90-metre cruise ship, was delayed by the movement of the sailing boat in the shipping lane in Dublin Port.
Dublin Fire Brigade and RNLI lifeboats were called out to deal with an incident on the River Liffey at Dublin Port when the sailors of small pleasure craft refused to get out of the shipping lane and blocked a cruise ship, a court has been told.
Dublin District Court was told on Wednesday that at 6am on June 1st, 2017 a 26-foot pleasure craft refused to get out of the shipping lane.
One of the occupants of this boat allegedly told a lifeboat skipper it was “their God given right to go up and down this river as Dubliners”.
The incident started after the small boat left its mooring at a south Dublin bank sailing club. After a couple of hours the sailing boat which also had an outboard engine was brought to a halt at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.
CCTV evidence showed one man being helped onto the quays where he removed his clothing.
The boat owner and yacht club member Brian Stacey (46) of Derry Drive, Crumlin and co-defendant Ronan Stephens (42) from Captain’s Road also in Crumlin, face charges under the Maritime Safety Act and the Public Order Act in connection with the alleged incident.
They have pleaded not guilty and have gone on trial before judge John Hughes at Dublin District Court where two hours of CCTV footage was viewed on Wednesday.
A State solicitor told the court the case related to maritime offences, intoxication and the alleged behaviour of the defendants.
The alleged sailing offences happened at the Shipping Lane of the River Liffey near the East Link Bridge coming into Dublin city.
Dublin Port harbour-master Michael McKenna told the court that entry of the Corinthian, a 90-metre cruise ship, was delayed by the movement of the sailing boat in the shipping lane. He said the sailing boat had no radio and was zigzagging.
Mark McGibney, skipper of the RNLI all weather lifeboat Anna Livia, told the trial he was on one of two lifeboats operating in Dún Laoghaire after a car had driven off the end of the quay into the water at about 5.30am.
A call was received asking his lifeboat to go to Dublin Port in relation to a boat with a number of people on board. The white sailing boat was about 23 to 26 feet long and had four people on board, he told the judge.
He said his lifeboat sailed closer to tell them that it would be best practice to get the sailing boat out of the fairway and to go back to the Poolbeg side of the Liffey.
He tried to keep the RNLI lifeboat between the sailing boat and the fairway. It then returned to Poolbeg Yacht Club and Mr McGibney thought that would be the end of the situation but it proceeded back to the fairway.
The trial heard the RNLI crew told them it was bad idea, and they collected gardaí. The Dublin pilot’s boat was leading the cruise ship in at the time.
The RNLI witness said their warnings to the people on the sailing boat were met with profanities and one replied that it was “their God-given right to go up and down this river as Dubliners”.
He agreed with defence barristers John Griffin and James Mulrean that wakes of other vessels could have affected the way the people on the pleasure boat could sail.
However, other vessels would have to be “flying by” but the RNLI crew travelled at a safe speed. He told the judge the sailing boat was going four or five knots, “very little more than walking speed”.
He would not say a collision with the cruise liner was imminent but the sailing boat’s lack of horse power for getting out of the way was worrying. David Lannigan, of Dublin Fire Brigade said the boat was sailing erratically.
A Dublin Fire Brigade lifeboat took over following the sailing boat after it went under the East Link bridge.
The defendants were charged with being under influence of alcohol and failing to stop for gardaí at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club while being the operator of a boat, navigating the craft without due care and attention, and endangerment of a RNLI lifeboat crew at the Shipping Lane on the River Liffey.
The trial continues on June 18th.