Irish Republican News · November 19, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
‘All your lough is belong to UK’


The fallout over Brexit has prompted the British governor in Ireland, James Brokenshire, to aggresively assert a claim over Lough Foyle in the north of Ireland. He told the Westminster parliament that “the whole” of the lough, extending westward to the Donegal shoreline in the 26 Counties, is owned by Britain.

Following partition in 1922, the British government first claimed ownership of the lough, which is located between counties Derry and Donegal. London’s claim was never accepted by any 26 County government.

The British government’s stance now means it claims ownership of the east bank of Inishowen in County Donegal to the high water mark. Ownership of the huge estuary has implications for shore front developments and fisheries licences and also raises jurisdiction issues for gardai over permission to go onto the shore below that mark.

Tensions over ownership appeared to be resolved when the cross-border Loughs Agency was established to oversee the management of Lough Foyle as well as Carlingford Lough, between Counties Down and Louth. However, that appears to have been merely a decoy.

The issue returned to political prominence this week following a parliamentary question to Brokenshire about post-Brexit fishing rights. In an unexpectedly blunt response, Mr Brokenshire said: “The government’s position remains that the whole of Lough Foyle is within the UK.”

In an equally direct response, the 26 County Department of Foreign Affairs said: “Ireland has never accepted the UK’s claim to the whole of Lough Foyle.”

A spokesman for the Dublin government confirmed that a number of meetings between the two governments about the issue had taken place since 2011.

Sinn Fein senator Padraig MacLochlainn accused Mr Brokenshire of being “arrogant and provocative”.

The issue was also raised by Sinn Fein’s Oliver McMullan at a meeting of the Stormont agriculture, environment and rural affairs committee this week.

He called on Brokenshire to engage with Dublin over ownership, saying the dispute could have implications for safety and ecology.

“There are fears of unregulated fishing in the lough and the damage that could do to the environment, including the threats posed by invasive species,” Mr McMullan said.

The 1916 Societies said the renewed claims of were “an outworking of the continued violation of Irish national sovereignty by that same state”.

“They are wholly without foundation given Britain has no democratic title in Ireland. Lough Foyle, as all of Ireland and her territorial waters, belongs as of right to the Irish people and to them should be returned,” they said.

“The 1916 Proclamation declared the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, holding that right as sovereign and indefeasible, a position endorsed by overwhelming majority through the historic 1918 Election. With that in mind and like all Britain’s claims to Irish territory, this latest grab for the Foyle and her resources represents the imposition of force in defiance of democracy for British imperial gain.”

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