Dáil Éireann - Volume 661 - 24 September, 2008

Written Answers. - Irish Territorial Waters.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the amount of times and the reason permission was given for military submarines of foreign navies being given permission to travel in Irish territorial waters; the date of such permission and the conditions that were attached, such as having to avoid fishing grounds, travelling on surface, and possession of nuclear weapons; the assurances that were given in each case for the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31360/08]

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if permission was given, and for what purpose, to a British Navy nuclear submarine to travel in Irish territorial waters off the coast of County Mayo in early September 2008; the purpose of the British Navy manoeuvres in the area; if they were linked to the arrival of the pipe laying ship The Solitaire for work on the Corrib gas pipeline and the presence of the Irish Navy’s LE Orla patrolling in the vicinity of Broadhaven Bay, County Mayo. [31361/08]

  Deputy Micheál Martin: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1033 and 1034 together.

In accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which Ireland is a party, all ships enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea. All ships, therefore, are entitled to enter the territorial sea without prior notification or consent, provided [544] that their passage is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal state. The right applies to submarines on the condition that they must navigate on the surface and show their flag. Accordingly, the issue of permission, conditions or assurances does not arise in such circumstances. With regard to the deployment of the LE Orla to Broadhaven Bay, which is a matter for the Department of Defence, I have been informed by that Department that the vessel was deployed to the area on foot of an Aid to the Civil Power request from the Garda Síochána. Moreover, the Department of Defence has no knowledge of any British Navy manoeuvres in the area in question.