Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Marine & Fisheries Pat the Cope Gallagher says it would be completely unacceptable for any restrictions to be put on Irish vessels fishing in waters around Rockall, an island off the coast of Donegal.

Deputy Gallagher was responding to a threat from the Scottish government that it will take action against Irish vessels fishing within the 12 mile zone around the island.

“I note that the declaration was made by the devolved Parliament in Edinburgh only, and at this juncture it appears not to have the backing of the British government”, said Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher.

“Rockall is subject to a claim of ownership by the British government since 1955, but that same claim has never been recognised by any Irish Government nor has the British claim been ever been lodged with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“There are numerous Donegal fishing vessels, from both Killybegs and Greencastle ports, fishing off Rockall and in the immediate waters surrounding the rock. These are long standing fishing traditions and patterns, which predate any claim by any other jurisdiction of these jointly fished grounds.

“The Irish Government must immediately engage with the UK government in Whitehall in an attempt to restore calm to the volatile situation at intra government level. In the interim, the Minister for Foreign Affairs should also meet with the British Ambassador to voice this country’s concerns about the messaging coming from the Scottish government.

“I personally will be raising these matters with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar when the Dáil resumes next week, but I would expect, as does every Irish person within the state, that between now and then, the rights of the Irish Nation and the rights of our fishermen will be protected by the government of this State.

“The unilateral actions of the Scottish government has set an undesirable tone – especially ahead of anticipated Brexit discussions.

“The Irish government needs to step up and defend Irish interests without further delay, and this declaration by the Scottish Government must be challenged at the highest level”, concluded Pat the Cope Gallagher.