Thursday 23 November 2017

Skellig Michael boatman brings legal action over shortening of tourist season

Skellig Michael features in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

Skellig Michael features in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Skellig Michael features in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Aodhan O'Faolain

A BOATMAN who brings visitors to Skellig Michael has brought a legal action over the Minister for Transport's decision to cut the length of the season passengers can land at the UNESCO world heritage site.

The High Court action has been brought by Sean, otherwise Seanie, Murphy who says the decision has reduced the traditional season by one third.

Mr Murphy has for many years operated a vessel taking visitors from the mainland to the monastic settlement site which was a location for blockbuster movie, Star Wars The Force Awakens, and the forthcoming sequel, Star Wars the Last Jedi.

He was informed by the Department of Transport on March 30, 2015, the day before the traditional season began, that from that point on visits from licensed passenger boats to the island could only take place between May 15 and September 30, while the National Monument Service have a staff presence on the island.

Mr Murphy was told the limits were being put in place for health and safety reasons, following a communication the Department received from the

National Monuments Service (NMS) which is the owner of the Island, the landing pier and the access road.

Licensed passenger boats may not land out of season unless prior permission has been obtained from the NMS

In judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr Murphy seeks various reliefs including an order quashing the Minister's decision to limit the season.

It is claimed the Minister is not entitled to select the length of the season Mr Murphy can land at the island.

It is also argued the decision was taken without any consultation with Mr Murphy and that irrelevant considerations were taken into account by the Department.

Mr Murphy's action is opposed.

In a judgement concerning preliminary issues in the case, Mr Justice Max Barrett ruled that Mr Murphy was entitled to discovery from the Minister's side of documentation, including emails, notes, and records, concerning the carrying of passengers to and from Skellig Michael.

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