DTI passed ferry as safe weeks before deaths

BRITISH and Irish transport authorities have come under fire over the adequacy of their safety supervision of the Celtic Pride, the ferry in which two children were killed last week by a build-up of sewage gases in their cabin.

It has emerged that the French- built ship was passed as safe by the Department of Trade and Industry just two weeks before the fatal accident. Denis Murphy, chairman of the Cork-based Swansea- Cork Ferries, operators of the vessel on lease from its Polish owners, confirmed the ship had been cleared last month after a regular test by the DTI.

A growing number of passengers have said they raised sewage gas leaks with both the Celtic Pride's crew and police in Ireland as far back as Easter last year. Because of this, the children's father Garry Tomlins has questioned the Irish official inspector's statement that the accident was the result of 'a one in a million chance'.

He says other passengers told him they had complained about the powerful sewage smell three and a half hours before the bodies of Catherine and James Tomlins were discovered.

The accident has set off a political row over the competence of the Irish Department of the Marine. Cork TD (MP) Joe Sherlock has questioned the wisdom of allowing the ship to return to sea 24 hours after the accident when only temporary safety measures had been taken. He said it was 'extraordinary' that the department had not insisted on the full modifications being carried out before it returned to sea.

Captain Francis Boyer, an Irish marine design expert, said the hourly crew inspections now being carried out on the ship were 'impractical' as he doubted if they could enter and check every passenger's cabin hourly throughout the night.

But Capt Boyer said it was possible to make the 'gravity sewage' systems, common in older ships, safe from gas leakage into cabins by the addition of extra and bigger vents from the main collection tanks, and by more regular monitoring of gauges and emptying of the secondary collection tanks from which waste is discharged into the sea. Adding duplicate vents would guard against a single one becoming blocked by dead seabirds, hair and other material.

The Celtic Pride is being withdrawn from service tomorrow for modifications to its sewage systems recommended by British, Irish and Polish surveyors, and is expected to resume sailings from Swansea on Friday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future