A judge said that the cases against four skippers, for alleged under-reporting of catches in 2003 and 2004, has “blue mould on it at this stage”.
Judge Kevin Kilrane made the comment in Donegal District Court on Monday when defence solicitor Paudge Dorrian sought to have the cases dismissed on the grounds of delay.
The four skippers face a total of 67 charges of under-reporting catches at Killybegs by making false entries in log books on dates between November 2003 and October 2004.
The skippers are: Brendan Gill from Greencastle, master of The Brendelen; Michael Cavanagh, also from Greencastle, skipper of The Father McKee; Sean Flaherty from Rossaveal, Co Galway. master of the Glor na Dtonn; and John O’Donnell of Cloghane, Tralee, Co. Kerry, skipper of The Holly B.
Mr Dorrian said depositions had not yet been taken in the District Court because a number of proceedings had been taken to higher courts.
He also accused the state of using the cases as “a fishing expedition”.
Patricia McLaughlin, counsel for the state, argued that the Circuit Court Judge, who will ultimately preside over the cases, has jurisdiction over whether they should be dismissed over undue delay.
Judge Kevin Kilrane disagreed, however.
He said: “At this stage, I am holding that I do have jurisdiction over delay.”
He added: “There’s blue mould on the cases at this stage, they’ve been to every court in the land.”
Judge Kilrane adjourned the cases to a preliminary hearing at Donegal District Court on March 5, when he said he would hear arguments from both sides on the question of delay.