Dáil Éireann - Volume 328 - 31 March, 1981

Written Answers. - Lough Foyle Vessel Explosion.

[475] 55. Mr. Horgan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs where the Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is drawn in respect of Lough Foyle.

56. Mr. Horgan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Nellie M was within the jurisdiction of the State when the recent explosion took place on board her in Lough Foyle.

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Lenihan): With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 and 56 together.

At the time of the explosion on board the Nellie M this British vessel was at anchor 300 yards off the coast at Moville, County Donegal. The vessel was checked and made safe by the security forces of the State and the Receiver of Wreck is now proceeding to discharge his legal functions in the matter and for that purpose is in touch with the ship's owners.

Our position in relation to the waters surrounding Northern Ireland was set out by the Minister for External Affairs in the Dáil on 17 November 1970 (columns 1429-1434, volume 249 of the Official Report) and by the Taoiseach on 29 February 1972 (columns 674-676, volume 259).

The Irish Government accordingly claim that these waters are ours. However, the Irish Government are also aware of the existence of a counter-contention that the waters around Northern Ireland are British.

It is unlikely that the conflicting claims in relation to this matter can be resolved outside the context of an overall solution to the Northern Ireland problem. As has been stated previously, this is not a legal question but fundamentally a political one which requires a political solution.