After a lengthy legal battle when four trawler skippers tried to have charges against them dismissed because of a long delay, Donegal District Court yesterday ruled that the cases would go ahead.
Judge Kevin Kilrane ruled that depositions would be taken in the court on March 11. The taking of the depositions could last several days.
The court heard the depositions would take the form of documentary evidence, which has to be proved in court.
The judge noted last month that the charges, dating back to 2003 and 2004, were so old there was blue mould on them.
He adjourned a decision in February until today whether they had been delayed too long for trial.
Donegal State Solicitor Ciaran Liddy yesterday gave evidence on behalf of the Attorney General that Circuit Court Judge John O’Hagan ruled in December that the depositions must take place before March 25.
Judge Kilrane said in that case the Circuit Court judge had ruled on the argument on delay, and he couldn’t super-impose another decision.
John O’Donnell, Sean Flaherty, Brendan Gill and Michael Cavanagh are accused of a total of 67 counts of under-reporting catch sizes at Killybegs and making false log-book entries in 2003 and 2004.
O’Donnell, from Cloghane, Tralee, Co. Kerry, is skipper of the Holly B. Cavanagh, from Greencastle, is skipper of the Fr McKee and Gill, also from Greencastle, is skipper of the Brendelen. Flaherty, from Rossaveal, Co. Galway, is skipper of the Glor na dTonn.
When they were initially charged, their cases were the first to come before the courts following a series of raids on fishing ports along the west and south coasts.