Tuesday, 11 June 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Leo Varadkar (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Dublin West, Fine Gael)
The matter was not raised at my recent meeting with the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, but it has been discussed by the Tánaiste and his counterpart, and by the Minister, Deputy Creed. The European Commission has been informed of the matter.
Rockall is a rock, essentially a sea stack in the middle of the ocean. It is uninhabitable and uninhabited, and it is not something that Ireland and Scotland should fight over. We do not have a claim to it and we do not accept any other sovereign claim to it. We believe the fishing a territory around it should be shared. The Irish vessels which are fishing in those waters have EU quota and these waters are part of EU waters. Under the Common Fisheries Policy, we believe they are within their rights to continue to fish in the area around Rockall.
The views of Scotland and Ireland have differed on this issue for some time, but we have built a strong and positive relationship to our mutual benefit over many years. In light of the most recent developments, dialogue continues between the Irish and Scottish Governments and there have been close contacts at official level in recent days to de-escalate tensions. The matter was discussed at Cabinet this morning and also at a meeting of the Scottish Government. We have agreed that dialogue should continue between the Irish and Scottish Governments. There have been close contacts at official level and these will continue. It has been agreed that a process of intensified engagement will take place, led by senior officials from both administrations. Both Governments would like to see this matter de-escalated.