Time to stand up for our fishermen against Dublin unfairness

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-

“In the week that Mr Varadkar has been protesting his good intent towards Northern Ireland (after his overtly aggressive stance in the Brexit negotiations) it is timely to point out the continuing unfairness Dublin is perpetrating against our inshore fishermen.

“In consequence of the London Fisheries Convention of 1964 (which granted specified countries established fishing rights in respective coastal waters in the 6-12 mile limit) the UK and the Republic entered, pursuant to Art 9(2) of the London Convention, the “Voisinage Agreement” whereby each additionally granted each other’s fishermen reciprocal fishing rights in the 0-6 mile limit.

“This arrangement continued in operation for 50 years (and is unaffected by the EU’s CFP as it applies beyond the 12 mile limit) till the Dublin Supreme Court ruled in October 2016 that the Voisinage Agreement was legally unenforceable. Since that point Northern Ireland fishermen have been denied access to the waters of the Republic in the 0-6 mile limit. Yet, the Republic’s fishermen have continued to have unfettered access to Northern Ireland’s water.

“Following the Irish Supreme Court ruling the Dublin government promised to legislate to restore the rights of Northern Irish fishermen, but this has not happened. The draft legislation has stalled in face of opposition in the Republic.

“So, the Republic’s fishermen continue to fish our 0-6 mile limit, but we are barred from theirs. Maybe, Mr Varadkar would be better employed in rectifying this wrong rather than patronising us with platitudes. Actions speak louder than words.

“Being wholly dissatisfied with the situation I recently raised it with the Permanent Secretary of DAERA. I am disappointed by his reply which takes refuge in excuses to do nothing. Clearly, since the reciprocal nature of the arrangement has been broken we need to move to end the right of the Republic’s fishermen to operate in our waters.

“Instead of doing so the Permanent Secretary says he wants to await having a local minister in office. Why? The reciprocal basis of the Voisinage Agreement has been breached, so why are we still pretending it exists and operating it to the disadvantage of local fishermen?

“It is time to stand up for Northern Ireland’s fishermen and restore parity by ensuring the Republic’s fleets stop plundering our fish stocks while we are kept out of Irish waters.”

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