The Gaffney Family
Christy Gaffney Senior (left) and CJ Gaffney (right)
From the time I could talk, I talked about fishing. When I got on my feet, I made my way down to the harbour in Arklow as though I knew then that I was home. Every summer of my childhood was spent on a boat. My father fished, my grandfather fished; five generations of my family have given service to the RNLI. Fishing has been the constant bind between each generation.
Both myself and my brother Austin followed that call to the sea. At 15 I left school to serve my time as a deckhand. By the age of 19, I owned and skippered my own boat.
We have always been hard working and self-sufficient. We owed our living to the sea and as such have always maintained immense respect for it. But fishing was more than just our work, it was part of the fabric of our family history, our life-blood, and we identified ourselves as fisher men above all other things. We neither knew nor wanted anything other than the life fishing offered. Fishing isn’t glamorous, it isn’t always lucrative; it is hard and it is dangerous; it is unpredictable and all consuming. But it is who we are.
When we became aware of the problems with the Mary Kate, our first concern was the safety of the crew and environment. We then set about trying to fix the problem but the banks closed in and we had to surrender everything. We didn’t just loose our boat. We lost ourselves, our good name, our livelihood, our identity.
But we will not give up. My brother, my elderly dad, and I will never stop looking for answers and for the compensation due to us for the loss of our livelihood. We did everything that was required of us.
We have endured almost 14 years of constant stress, sleepless nights, endless financial pressure. We still owe a substantial amount of money to a financial institution for something that was not of our making. An inaccurately stamped Stability Book has left us penniless.
A fishing boat's inaccurate Stability Book has rendered an innocent family penniless.