“there has never been any formal agreement between Ireland and the United Kingdom on the delimitation of a territorial water boundary…”

The Northern Ireland Marine Task Force have, in their own words, been “actively campaigning for effective marine legislation for Northern Ireland through the UK Marine Act and Northern Ireland Marine Bill since 2004.”

The UK Marine Act arrived here in 2009, via a legislative consent motion in the NI Assembly, with a NI Marine Bill promised in 2012.

Last week NIMTF welcomed the renewed support of MLAs from Alliance, SDLP, DUP and Sinn Féin.  And yesterday some 200 schoolchildren arrived at Stormont to lobby for the Bill.

Which prompted BBC NI political editor, Mark Devenport, to make this observation – on the situation in Scotland.

Over in Scotland, the ownership of the sea bed has been the subject of controversy.

The SNP demanding the transfer of the rights related to offshore wind farms and other projects from the Crown estate to the Scottish government.

Perhaps because Northern Ireland doesn’t lay claim to any oil reserves, local nationalists have been rather slower to extend the battle for soveriegnty from the land to the sea.

Minister Attwood says the environment and enterprise departments already have adequate licensing regimes in place for local off shore wind farms.

However questioned about whether Stormont should lay claim to the sea, he says he wouldn’t rule out anything so far as stretching the limits of devolution is concerned.

And then, perhaps, the Northern Ireland Executive could open negotiations with the Irish Government on the long-running dispute over certain territorial waters…  [*ahem* – Ed]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office underlined its view on 2 June 2009 that all of Lough Foyle is in the United Kingdom, a spokesperson stating:

“The UK position is that the whole of Lough Foyle is within the UK. We recognise that the Irish Government does not accept this position…There are no negotiations currently in progress on this issue. The regulation of activities in the Lough is now the responsibility of the Loughs Agency, a cross-border body established under the Belfast Agreement of 1998.[36]

As I mentioned in June 2009, here is a corresponding statement [on 10 June 2009] from the then-Irish Minister of State for Education and Science, Conor Lenihan

I reiterate to the Senator that there has never been any formal agreement between Ireland and the United Kingdom on the delimitation of a territorial water boundary between the two states. In the context of the Good Friday Agreement, a decision was taken to co-operate on foreshore and other issues that arise in the management of the lough from conservation and other points of view.

One of the issues is that the median channel in Carlingford is the navigation channel whereas, as the Deputy knows, living as close as she does to the lough, the navigation channel in Lough Foyle hugs the southern side, which makes it rather more difficult to manage or to negotiate an agreement as to where the territorial waters actually lie. 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, I remind the Deputy again that the preamble of the Constitution defines the nation in terms of the island and its territorial seas.

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  • Isn’t the island of Rockall in dispute because of the hope there is oil beneath the surrounding waters?

  • Progressive Unionist

    Naive perhaps, but why can’t both states, UK & Irish Republic, just agree to share our territorial waters of these islands as a joint enterprise?

    (hunkers down in anticipation of incoming from constitutional lawyers explaining why this is seemingly impossible)

  • aquifer

    The seabed can be very valuable for siting windfarms or tidal turbines, even if there were no gas. It would be good to get this sorted so that investment can be made without delay. Uncertainty raises the interest rate on finance and could put electricity prices up, despite us already being in the one market already.

    It might be best to give plenty of the seabed to the republic so that developers can benefit from low corporation tax and build more quickly.

  • tacapall

    Certainly is Joe and well worth it apparently.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2011/jan/01/john-vidal-rockall

  • Ta, tacapall; great link.

  • Ther’s an empty double lot beside mine; I’d love to be able to stick a flag on it and say it’s mine.

  • Pete Baker

    And back to the actual topic…

  • Oh to be home on the range having a conversation about stray insights and where never was heard a discouraging word…

  • George

    Regarding Rocall, I don’t believe that Ireland or the UK are in dispute about any territorial claim over the rock. The issue remains live because of the other countries that have a claim, namely Faroe Islands, Denmark and Iceland. All five have to agree.

  • Pete Baker

    Thank you, George.

    Now, as I said, back to the actual topic…