Tuesday 17 October 2017

Boat brought ashore as gardai look for clues to triple tragedy

The Irish Coast Guard tows the ‘Dean Leanne’ into Tramore after it was recovered yesterday
The Irish Coast Guard tows the ‘Dean Leanne’ into Tramore after it was recovered yesterday
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

GARDAI and marine casualty investigators have examined the boat at the centre of the Waterford drowning tragedy in which three brothers died.

The 20ft 'Dean Leanne' was recovered some 400 metres from the shoreline at the entrance of Tramore Bay shortly before 9.30am yesterday, after being identified late last week and marked with a buoy.

Paul (49), Kenny (47) and Shane Bolger (44), from Passage East, are believed to have died from hypothermia and drowning after setting lobster posts near Brownstown Head in Tramore last Wednesday.

It is not clear what happened to the men, and separate investigations are under way by gardai, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

The boat was brought ashore early yesterday afternoon, and taken to a lock-up in Waterford city. It was photographed and examined by gardai and the MCIB, and further examinations will take place today.

The hull is intact and some lobster pots remain in the vessel. The boat was recovered by Irish Coast Guard volunteers, under garda supervision.

Other issues to be addressed during the probe include whether the men had other safety equipment, including location devices on their life-jackets.

DANGER

The recovery came after 1,000 mourners attended the men's funeral at the church of St John the Baptist in Passage East.

Mourners were told that the tragedy was caused by a "descent into danger" experienced by all fishermen who were forced to take greater risks in smaller boats because so many categories of fish or types of fishing had been restricted.

Colm O'Neill, the men's brother-in-law, said they gave their lives seeking lobsters, for which they received less than 5pc of the ultimate price paid by consumers in hotels and restaurants, and called for the development of fishing-related tourism to provide "decent employment" without unacceptable risks.

The funeral was attended by Minister for Agriculture and the Marine Simon Coveney.

A spokeswoman for the department said it did not wish to respond to Mr O'Neill's comments. The Government has said it planned to introduce a range of new measures aimed at improving safety in the fishing industry next month.

New rules on safety equipment and grant aid for improvements will be introduced after concerns were raised by safety investigators.

The MCIB said in its 2011 annual report that 40pc of all deaths at sea in a given year were among fishermen, and that standards needed to be improved to reduce fatalities.

Some 108 people have died at sea between 2002 and 2011.

Irish Independent

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