Dáil Éireann - Volume 476 - 13 March, 1997

Written Answers. - Accidents in Irish Waters.

14. Mr. N. Treacy asked the Minister for the Marine the role, if any, he has in protecting the rights of victims of accidents in Irish territorial waters or within the jurisdiction of port authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5013/97]

Minister for the Marine (Mr. Barrett): The question of the rights of victims of accidents in Irish territorial waters or within the jurisdiction of port authorities, in so far as culpability and liability are concerned, would be a civil matter for the courts to decide, and I would have no function in that regard.

[828] I would, however, draw the Deputy's attention to the Merchant Shipping (Liability of Shipowners and Others) Act, 1996, the Commencement Order for which I signed on 6 February 1997.

The introduction of this Act brought Irish law in relation to the carriage of goods and passengers by sea into line with current international standards as set down in the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, 1976 (the London Convention); the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their luggage by Sea, 1974 and the Protocol of 1976 thereto; and the Brussels Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law relating to Bills of Lading, 1924, and the Protocols of 1968 and 1979 thereto.

Among the benefits arising from this Act is that it ensures that passengers qualify for realistic levels of compensation for loss, injury or damage either to their persons or their luggage, thus putting travellers by sea on a par with air passengers.

I am satisfied that the Merchant Shipping (Liability of Shipowners and Others) Act, 1996, provides a balanced framework of obligations and rights for shipowners, shippers and passengers.