Boats taking cargo to Skellig for 'Star Wars' in trouble over permits
BOATMEN ferrying equipment used for the filming of 'Stars Wars' on Skellig Michael have fallen foul of inspectors, who say they had no permits to carry cargo.
The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has confirmed its Marine Survey Office (MSO) investigated activities in Portmagee, Co Kerry, on Wednesday, following reports that cargo was being carried to the island onboard "local vessels".
The department confirmed "enforcement activities" had been carried out at local mainland harbours.
And while environmental and archaeological groups accused the State of having scant regard for the island's breeding bird population or its archaeological heritage, it seems one government agency cannot be accused of not being on top of its brief.
An MSO surveyor was dispatched to Co Kerry on Wednesday evening to further investigate the matter.
A statement said: "The MSO checked its records, which showed no 'local' vessel had been issued with the required Irish Load Line Certification or had been issued with a Passenger Boat Licence with the required approval to carry cargo.
"The result of this visit was that the MSO surveyor was not satisfied that the cargo had been transported to Skellig Michael in accordance with the requirements of the applicable maritime safety legislation."
Boatmen were informed that the return of the cargo to the mainland should only be undertaken by a vessel with the appropriate load line certification or by a licensed passenger boat holding an approved cargo carriage condition.
The statement said this was an "important safety issue".
Local boatmen were paid €1,000 in compensation for projected loss of earnings on each of the three days of filming while the island was closed to the public.
Most were employed by the film company to transport crew and equipment to the island.
One boatman, who denied there had been any issue, told the Irish Independent a "disclosure agreement" prevented them from ever talking about anything related to the film.
Director JJ Abrams completed three days of filming of 'Star Wars: Episode VII' on the UNESCO World Heritage Site on Wednesday.