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Government now have serious questions to answer over Rockall and their defence of Irish fishing waters – Mac Lochlainn

13 June, 2019 - by Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn is demanding answers from the Government on the role of its senior members in the 2013 agreement between the British and Irish Governments, establishing a Single Maritime Boundary between their Exclusive Economic Zones and parts of their Continental Shelves. 

As part of that agreement, regardless of whether Ireland recognises British sovereignty over the rock or not, Rockall falls within the 200 mile EEZ of the UK. 

Senator Mac Lochlainn has also demanded that the Government clarify when the Scottish Government commenced correspondence with them, threatening to enforce their 12 mile limit claim around Rockall, and if that correspondence continued during the progress of the recent Sea Fisheries (Amendment) Bill. He called for all such correspondence, up to the present, to be published immediately.

Senator Mac Lochlainn said:

“There are serious and growing questions for senior Government figures over this latest Rockall controversy.

“The 2013 agreement was signed by then Tánaiste Eamonn Gilmore. Fishing industry representatives say the agreement, which effectively concedes Rockall to the UK, was made without any consultation – either with them or the wider public. Tánaiste Simon Coveney was Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine at the time. 

“Fishing industry representatives also say that not only were they never consulted on the establishment of the boundaries, they were also subsequently not made aware of this. This is a serious situation and the Taoiseach and Tánaiste need to clarify why and how this was allowed to happen.

“Further to this, fishing representatives have stated that they were not made aware of the exchange of correspondence between the Irish and Scottish Governments over fishing rights around Rockall in recent times.

“They are flabbergasted that, just a matter of months ago, the Government signed into law another agreement which effectively allows UK registered vessels fish right up to the Irish coast, while they were in possession of this information.

“I am demanding that the Government immediately publish the full extent of this correspondence and explain why they did not make the interested parties including the fishermen and Oireachtas members aware of this when they pushed this controversial legislation through the houses earlier this year.” 

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