‘Arrogant’ UK Foyle claim torpedoed

P�draig Mac Lochlainn. (0503PG13)
P�draig Mac Lochlainn. (0503PG13)

A fresh regurgitation of Britain’s claim to the entirety of Lough Foyle, right up to the high water mark on the Inishowen shore, has been branded a provocation by Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and denied by the Irish Foreign Minister, Mr. Charlie Flanagan.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, sparked an angry reaction from the Buncrana-based senator Mac Lochlainn when at Westminster this week he advised his Labour shadow, Dave Anderson, that London’s position remains that the whole of Lough Foyle is within the U.K.”

Senator Mac Lochlainn described this as an “arrogant and provocative pronouncement” and the Dublin Department of Foreign Affairs denied it saying: “Ireland has never accepted the UK’s claim to the whole of Lough Foyle.”

Mr Flanagan’s department suggested the ongoing Lough Foyle border dispute won’t figure in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations, but said that bilateral talks and discussions between the British and Irish Governments regarding aquaculture licensing, for example, would continue.

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Office, however, insisted that its claim to the Foyle - from Greencastle to Lifford - is based on the self-same Royal Charter that a Judge, in 2007, ruled Derry City Council would have to apply to have changed if it wanted to change the name of the city from ‘Londonderry’ to ‘Derry.’

A governemnt spokesperson told the Journal: “The UK maintains its formal claim to the whole of Lough Foyle, based on a 1662 charter of Charles II, which granted the waters and bed (as well as the fisheries) of Lough Foyle to the Irish Society and included them as part of County Londonderry.

“In practice, the UK supports the regulation of activities in the Lough by the Loughs Agency, a cross-border body established under the Belfast Agreement of 1998, an arrangement to which we are fully committed.”

Dublin said problems posed by the border dispute have “included difficulty in creating a system for licencing of aquaculture by the Loughs Agency in accordance with the intentions of the two governments under the 1999 agreement establishing North/South implementation bodies.”

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