THE owner of the RMS Lusitania wreck off Ireland's south coast accused the Government of being "mentally challenged" over their handling of a proposed centenary dive.
US entrepreneur Gregg Bemis warned that unless the Department of Arts and Heritage eases dive conditions, no exploration would be possible to mark the 100th anniversary of the liner's sinking.
Mr Bemis said that Ireland faced losing "a historic and golden opportunity" to solve the mystery of the World War I liner - and deliver artefacts for a proposed Cork museum.
The Lusitania was torpedoed by the German submarine, U-20, off the Cork coast on May 7, 1915 with the loss of 1,198 lives. "If the 'mentally challenged' department ever gets out of the way, we, of course, will make every effort to further pursue our research on the location of the torpedo hit and the mystery of the second explosion," said Mr Bemis.
"I have a (dive) licence but they attach 20 or 25 different conditions to the licence and I cannot fulfil them all. It is impossible."
But the Government defended its stance. "The Lusitania is generally recognised as one of the world's most important shipwrecks and the department's view is that the conditions attached to Mr Bemis' licence are no more onerous than is absolutely necessary to protect a wreck of this magnitude," a spokesperson said.
They added the previous licence facilitated the successful 'Discovery Channel' documentary in 2008 and the 'National Geographic' expedition in 2011.