Dáil Éireann - Volume 411 - 31 October, 1991

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Conditions on Ferry Vessel.

15. Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Defence if he has received any representations from the crew of the Department of Defence ferry William J, which is used for ferrying personnel to and from Haulbowline, regarding working conditions on the boat; if he plans to take steps to have the working conditions improved and the health and safety standards brought up to an acceptable level; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. Daly: Representations were received regarding the William J from the union representing the crew and the matter was examined by the Department.

The vessel William J was hired by the Department for use as a garrison launch to provide passenger service between Haulbowline and Cobh during August and September 1991 while the Department's own launch, the David F, was undergoing a major overhaul. The Department of Marine certified that the William J was fit to carry passengers and crew and that the vessel complied with all safety conditions, such as lifesaving apparatus, hull condition, firefighting and pumping arrangements, etc.

The William J was returned to its owners after the Department's own vessel, the David F, became fully operational again on 30 September 1991.

Mr. Sherlock: The William J carried 1,000 people per day. The vessel had no washing, heating or eating facilities and did not, therefore, comply with EC health and safety law. Only half the crew had been provided with life saving gear. The David F is now operating the same ferry service and, unfortunately, the people who are operating it find that the conditions have not been improved. It does not have heating, eating or toilet facilities. The employees are very diligent and work unsocial hours but their rate of pay, which was associated with the [2281] building trade, is out of line because they have not been granted the increases recently paid to builders.

Mr. Daly: The service is now provided by the Department's vessel the David F. There is some confusion about the vessel which was hired while the David F was undergoing major repairs and servicing. If the Deputy feels that the David F which was recently overhauled is not adequate, he should say so.

Mr. Sherlock: I am aware that the William J has been returned to its owners. I am referring to the condition of the David F, in particular the heating, eating and toilet facilities. I am asking the Minister to look into these matters. I have up to the minute information on them and I am very concerned. Even though they do a very important job these vessels do not seem to be getting the attention they deserve.

Mr. Daly: The vessel in question has undergone a major overhaul recently. I take the point Deputy Sherlock has made and arising from his remarks I will have the matter thoroughly investigated and will communicate with him in due course.