09 March 2017

Labour Senator Ged Nash has claimed that the Government is ‘bending the knee’ to Britain with rushed and unnecessary legislation to give legal effect to a 60 year old ‘voisinage agreement’ which allowed Northern Irish registered vessels to fish within 6 nautical miles of the coastline of the Irish Republic.

Senator Nash explained,

“The Minister had planned to ram this sea fisheries legislation through the Seanad yesterday but the Labour Party raised objections to this approach and we prevented this from happening.

“We will now have a more detailed examination of the legislation in the coming weeks.

“Late last year a judgment of the Supreme Court found that an almost 60 year old North-South gentleman’s agreement on reciprocal fishing rights had no legal basis.

“From November of last year, it has been entirely unlawful for northern registered fishing vessels to fish in Irish waters as they had done with absolute impunity for almost six decades.

“Aggressive pillaging of our mussel seed beds by Northern Irish vessels has had a damaging effect on the livelihoods of Republic of Ireland trawler owners and their crew.

“This entire back-of-an-envelope arrangement was a classic Irish solution to an Irish problem when we still exercised a constitutional claim over Northern Ireland.

“Just because it was politically expedient in the 1960s doesn’t mean it is right to put the arrangement in law now.

“It is a bizarre spectacle to witness an Irish fisheries Minister, who is accountable to the citizens of the Republic of Ireland preparing to put into law an arrangement with no upside for our local fishermen and well ahead of the opening of crucial negotiations on our aquaculture arrangements with our neighbours post-Brexit.

“Regardless of where one stands on the substantive issue, this is at the very least a perplexing negotiating strategy.”


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