Colonial rents paid for Irish lough
Colonial rents paid for Irish lough

The British Crown is charging rent for the use of Lough Foyle, between Donegal and Derry, it has emerged.

There are now demands that the Crown Estate Commission -- which manages properties owned by the British monarch -- to cease making its imperial demands against the Irish public.

The row broke out after it emerged it was charging the Foyle Ferry Company around five thousand pounds a year to operate between Donegal and Magilligan in County Derry.

Rents raised are paid to the British exchequer.

Due to Britain’s claim of ownership of all seas within 12 miles of the coast -- including the coast around the Six Counties -- Britain claims to own all of Lough Foyle, right up to the shore on the east bank of Inishowen in County Donegal.

It also emerged that a cowardly Dublin government agreed to “buy” Carrickarory Pier in County Donegal from the Crown.

While Carrickarory - near Moville, in Inishowen - is 18 miles inside the border, it had been claimed as British-owned and controlled since the foundation of the 26 County state.

Britain asserted ownership of the pier because it was built on the seabed of Lough Foyle which it claims on behalf of the Crown. It was “purchased” by the 26 County state twenty years ago for the fee of one pound.

The matter was raised in the Dublin parliament last week by Senator Cecilia Keaveney, who has also called on the Crown estate to give up ownership claims in Lough Foyle.

She said the 1998 Good Friday Agreement was being ignored by the British government.

“There is a perfectly legitimate body, the Foyle and Carlingford Lights Commission, which can manage the lough,” she said.

The Donegal senator felt it necessary to tell her fellow Senators that it was “not a ‘wrapping the flag around me’ exercise”.

“It has fundamental serious implications that must be addressed,” she said.

Dublin minister Conor Lenihan has said there is no “formal agreement” between the 26 County state and Britain over the seas around Ireland.

“There is no agreement between the two governments on where the boundary lies which is a problem that has bedevilled the situation for some time.

“With regard to the Good Friday Agreement... the preamble of the constitution defines the nation in terms of the island and its territorial seas,” the minister said.

However, Mr Lenihan said the problem with Lough Foyle was that the shipping channel lay very close to the Donegal shore. This made it “much more difficult” to decide where the state’s territorial waters were in this case, he claimed.

Sinn Féin East Derry Assembly member Francie Brolly called on Minister Lenihan to “act decisively”.

“I find it amazing that an Irish government Minister should just meekly accept the right of the British Crown Estates to levy charges against an Irish operator providing a very worthwhile service in Irish waters.

“Conor Lenihan’s comment that ‘there was no formal agreement’ between the British and Irish governments over territorial waters is a lame excuse for inaction.

“It’s about time the Irish government defended its so-called sovereignty and told Crown Estates that it has no right to levy charges against an Irish operator in Irish waters - disputed or otherwise. I call on the Minister to act decisively and demand that British Crown Estates relinquish any claim to Lough Foyle and give operational responsibility to Foyle and Carlingford Lights Commission.”

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