FISHING CHAOS: Ireland sparks fury after SEIZING British ships – 'APPALLED!'
The two UK-registered boats were stopped in Dundalk Bay on Wednesday in a move branded “illegal” by a Democratic Unionist (DUP) MP in Westminster. An unwritten gentleman’s agreement had allowed fishing vessels from Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland mutual access to the island’s waters but was unilaterally suspended by Dublin following a 2016 decision by its top court. Irish police said the vessels had been impounded over an alleged breach of fishing regulations.
Speaking in the Commons today, DUP MP Jim Shannon said he was “appalled” by Dublin’s actions.
He said: ”The fishing boats are very clearly British fishing boats. They were illegally seized in waters that are disputed, waters that belong to this great nation, this British nation.”
Conservative MP Iain Duncan-Smith said the seizure had happened “without a huge amount of justification”.
Until 2016, an informal deal had granted fishing boats from both sides of the Irish border reciprocal access to each other’s inshore waters.
The ‘Voisinage agreement’ collapsed in 2016 after Dublin’s Supreme Court ruled that it had not been incorporated properly into Irish law.
The decision means Northern Irish vessels are currently banned from fishing inside the Republic of Ireland’s territorial waters.
However the UK did not suspend the deal on its side and boats from the Republic are still able to fish north of the border.
The collapse of the agreement has reportedly affected some 20 boats registered in Northern Ireland which would have traditionally fished in the sheltered waters of Dundalk Bay.
The two small vessels, The Amity and The Boy Joseph, were fishing for crabs, lobsters and whelks when they were stopped.
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds accused Dublin of “policing a hard border” by blocking Northern Irish vessels from fishing in its waters, according to Belfast-based newspaper The News Letter.
He said: He added: “Despite the Voisinage agreement to have reciprocal fishing arrangements, the Irish have never enacted any legislation to give legal effect to the agreement. Legislation was drafted in 2016 but remains on the shelf.
“If they have been holding back as some bargaining chip on Brexit then it utterly exposes the Irish faux concern about a hard border on the island of Ireland.
“When Leo Varadkar talked about soldiers on the border he didn’t mention the Irish sending warships with 76mm guns.”
Irish police said: “An Irish naval vessel the LE Orla detained two UK-registered boats fishing in Dundalk Bay.
“They were escorted to port in Clogher Head, where they were detained by Gardai under the 2006 Fisheries Act.”