Donegal skipper at centre of fishing row thanks supporters

Donegal skipper, Jondy Ward was allowed to take the Cornelis Gert Jan out of Le Havre port on Wednesday night.
Seamus McKinney

THE Donegal skipper at the centre of a major post-Brexit fishing row has thanked those who sent messages of support after a French court allowed his boat to leave Le Havre port.

Jondy Ward, from Burtonport, and his crew were detained last week after French authorities impounded the Cornelis Gert Jan scallop trawler in a row over licences to fish in French waters.

The vessel is owned by Scottish company, MacDuff Shellfish.

The move led to a full-scale Brexit row between Britain and France as both sides adopted a hard stance on the issue.

However, following a court hearing in the French city of Rouen, the Cornelis Gert Jan was given permission to leave Le Havre on Wednesday night without having to post any financial guarantee.

A French court rejected a demand that it be held until a €150,000 (£127,145) bond was deposited.

Following the hearing, MacDuff Shellfish director, Andrew Brown, said the company was relieved that the crew could finally return home.

Mr Ward still faces a trial in France next August on charges of non-authorised fishing in French waters by a boat from outside the European Union.

As he left Le Havre, Mr Ward issued a message thanking people back home for their support during his ordeal.

He also revealed a local man, Jim Harley from Annagry in west Donegal, even turned up at the court in Rouen to support him.

In a message to west Donegal independent councillor, Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig, Mr Ward said: "Just busy now trying to get all ready to get to sea.

"Please tell everyone at home that I am so grateful for all their messages and support."

He added his thanks to Mr Harley "for showing up today to show his support and that meant a lot to see a fellow-Rosses man there for support".

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