WHY IS UK STILL ALLOWED TO BLOCK IRISH FISHERMEN FROM ROCKALL?
It is a year since the British authorities blocked fishermen from Ireland accessing traditional fishing grounds around Rockall. The UK’s arbitrary exclusion of Irish fishing boats from Rockall has cost Ireland nearly €8m. That is admitted by the Minister for the Marine, so why is the Irish Government tolerating this action by Britain, a year after it began? Minister Charlie McConalogue has stated that the losses to Ireland for lost catches of squid and other species previously caught in the Rockall area by Irish boats are a total of €7.7m. A year after it began threatening Irish vessels if they entered a zone the UK claims to own, the Irish government continues to “work in every way possible to ensure we resolve this issue diplomatically,” the Minister has said. So far that has not been successful. “Ireland has never made any claims to Rockall, nor has it ever recognised British sovereignty claims to Rockall. Accordingly we have not recognised a 12-nautical mile territorial sea around it either,” said the Minister.
Sinn Fein’s Spokesman on Fisheries and the Marine, Padraig MacLochlainn says that “the fact that this issue has not been resolved is evidence that we have conceded British control over Rockall. Until I see decisive action from the Government I will not be convinced otherwise. It is outrageous that, after a year, this has not been resolved.”
The fishing community remain to be convinced of the Government’s commitment to fight for Ireland’s traditional fishing rights at Rockall.Two questions the Government should answer – Has it given away Irish traditional rights around Rockall to the British but not admitted this to the public? If it has not, then why is it not making a stronger public commitment to challenge and deny what appears to be a UK territorial grab of Rockall?
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