News Courts

Monday 20 November 2017

Dispute over lakes of Killarney reached the High Court

The tranquil lakes of Killarney on a late summer morning.
The tranquil lakes of Killarney on a late summer morning.

Tim Healy

A DISPUTE relating to the licensing of commercial passenger boats on the lakes of Killarney in Kerry has come before the High Court.

Aidan O'Callaghan, a boatman of St Margaret's, Killarney, says he has operated on the lower lake from Ross Castle to the Gap of Dungloe for some 40 years.

He says he has historically had the permission of the licensing authority to operate two boats there but is being told he may only operate one. There is no legal basis for that decision, he contends.

His counsel, David Sutton, secured leave from Mr Justice Seamus Noonan to bring judicial review proceedings in which it is alleged the legislation being cited as the basis for refusal of a licence for two boats does not apply.

The judge was told the case has "a lot of importance" for other boat operators.

In his action, Mr O'Callaghan says he holds a licence under the Merchant Shipping Act 2006 from the Department of Transport. He says he operates one boat, the "Margaret", but wants to operate a second boat alongside that.

He claims the lower lake is contained in the area governed by the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park Act 1932 and is nominally controlled by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Commissioners of Public Works under that Act.

The lake has in recent times being managed under purported licensing authority of the Minister, he claims.

While he historically has had permission of the licensing authority to operate two boats, he claims a tender process of 2014 had led to his being informed his tender was deficient and he may legally only operate one boat.

Mr Sutton said the essential case being made was that there was no power to issue a boating licence under the State Property Act 1954 and his client is entitled to a licence for two boats under the Merchant Shipping Act.

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