Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has warned that an ongoing dispute between the National Maritime College of Ireland and marine authorities is putting the livelihood’s of hundreds of families at risk.
Deputy Martin raised the issue directly with Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross who has overall responsibility for marine related matters.
“New regulations have been introduced by the Marine Survey Office which requires all mariners to complete a mandatory programme of refresher training in basic sea survival and boat handling techniques,” said Deputy Martin.
“The National Maritime College of Ireland has been providing refresher courses to ensure that mariners can comply with this new requirement. However a serious issue has arisen whereby the Marine Survey Office has so far refused to accredit this course. This has left mariners in limbo as they have completed the refresher course but the official authorities refuse to recognise it as a qualification.
“The UK’s Marine and Coastguard Agency has recognised the certificate, so the calibre of the teaching and the content of the course are not in question. It seems that bureaucracy is holding up the accreditation process which is simply unacceptable.
“The Maritime College has warned that 14 full time staff and another 10 part time staff have been placed on protective notice as a result of the failure to accredit the course. There is an urgent need for the course to be accredited so that lasting damage is not caused to the college and those that rely on its services.
“Minister Ross gave a commitment that his officials are working to resolve this issue. His Department needs to move fast and ensure that the Marine Survey Office gives this course full accreditation on a permanent basis.”