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Fisherman's livelihood sunk by thieves


‘WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THIS?’ Gerry Hassett, Purteen Harbour Fisherman’s Group.

Six boats broken into on Achill

Anton McNulty

An Achill fishing trawler sank after its deck pump was stolen, causing around €15,000 worth of damage. The 36-foot ‘Bláth na hÓige’, owned by Achill fisherman Michael Connaghan, along with five other vessels, was the target of a spate of boat burglaries that occurred in the early hours of Monday morning (yesterday) at Purteen Harbour near Keel.
The value of the property stolen from the vessels was not substantial, but when the deck pump from the ‘Bláth na hÓige’ was removed, the attached inch-and-and-half pipe was also cut. As a result, when the tide came in around 5am on Monday morning, water started to pour into the boat, and it was quickly submerged.
The damage was first noticed at 8.30am, when Michael Connaghan arrived at the harbour to see his boat underwater. When more fishermen arrived and checked their boats, it quickly became clear that nearby vessels had also been broken into.

Gerry Hassett of the Purteen Harbour Fisherman’s Group told The Mayo News that the water damage to the engine and the electronics is so extensive they have to be replaced and refitted, costing between €10,000 and €15,000.
“Last year, Michael refurbished the boat, and he’ll have to do it all again,” Gerry lamented. “This is his livelihood, and always has been. The boat was his pride and joy for 30 years and he has always looked after it, and kept it manicured. He came down to the harbour around half eight and rang me and said his boat has sunk. He was sickened.
“The only consolation is it wasn’t as a result of Michael having done anything wrong – it wasn’t his error which resulted in it sinking. Everyone down here at the moment is asking the same thing, ‘Why would anyone do something like this?’.”

The boat had been secured in Purteen Harbour on Sunday evening after the last of the season’s lobster pots were brought ashore. It is believed that the burglaries took place around 1am when the tide was out and there was no water around the boats.
A number of the doors on the wheelhouses were damaged and items such as petrol cans, oilskins, search lights and lifejackets were stolen. The value of the items stolen is estimated to be between €1,000 and €2,000. More-expensive items such as outboard engines, fishing rods and electrical communications devices were left untouched, and the fishermen are finding it hard to understand why they were not taken.
Gardaí are currently examining the circumstances of the burglaries and reviewing CCTV around the area for any suspicious activity. Anyone who may have noticed anything suspicious around Purteen Harbour is asked to contact Achill Garda Station on 098 20830 or Westport Garda Station on 098 50230.