A fisherman who was using illegal fishing methods and forcibly moved a officer of the Irish Fisheries Board out of the way has been fined at Carrickmacross District court.
Piotr Flaga, a foreign national, of 3 Bog Road, Drogheda, pleaded guilty to assaulting the officer, Ronan O’Brien, and to contraventions of fishing laws.
The court heard how the officer had been informed of illegal fishing at Spring Lake, Corcrin, just outside of Carrickmacross and made his way there on the 18 August.
There he spotted a van leaving the area, which he believed at the time had not seen him and had simply been moving off. He spoke to a fisherman there who said he had seen the van and its occupants fishing there over a number of days. He found illegal set lines which he then disabled.
The officer returned on 19 August and waited for the return of the van. When the van arrived, it quickly made its way back out from the fishing area.
He followed and saw the van parked on the Dundalk to Carrickmacross Road. He approached the van and attempted to speak to the driver and passenger, but neither man had any English.
He then demanded they open the van, where he found a fishing equipment and some still wet set lines, which he removed to the side of the road.
One of the occupants of the van, Flaga, got out and then moved the officer to the side, while his companion put the fishing equipment back in the van. He closed the van and he went to get back in the driver’s seat.
The fisheries officer attempted to stop him getting back in and told him that Gardaí were on their way. Flaga once again removed the man and got into the van. The officer then got back into van, at which point the officer stood in front of the van. The van moved forward, but the officer remained. It moved forward once more, but this time fearing for his own safety he let the van drive off.
Flaga was later arrested.
The court heard that Flaga said he had made a “big mistake” and after some encouragement from Judge Sean MacBride apologised to Mr O’Brien.
Judge MacBride said that as this was his first offence he would not be sending the man to jail and instead fined him €300 for the assault, €150 for the use of set lines and costs of €500.