Thursday, 3 June 2021
Maritime Jurisdiction Bill 2021 [Seanad]: Second Stage
Louise O'Reilly (Dublin Fingal, Sinn Fein)
The decisions taken in this Bill and associated Bills on maritime planning will have major repercussions for the future, particularly the future of Fingal and the seashore along north County Dublin. The marine planning Bill, which will establish a marine planning system for our maritime areas similar to that in place for land planning, is coming down the track. What is in that legislation, like this Bill, has to be an agreed vision constructed through engagement and conversation with planning experts, marine biologists, the fishing community and coastal communities. To date, this has been very much lacking.
Only recently, the marine planning framework passed through this House with hardly any debate. Engagement, communication and conversation with planning experts, marine biologists, the fishing community and coastal communities is necessary because if we do not get an agreement on a broad range of fronts, mistakes in maritime and marine planning will be made similar to those in north County Dublin, which is dealing with the legacy of planning failures on land.
If we fail to do our jobs properly at this stage, there is no doubt that there will be unintended consequences down the line for both the offshore energy industry and our environment. It is clear that we need regulation of development in our marine areas and seashores but we have to make sure that the voices of the planning experts, the marine biologists, the environmentalists, the fishing community, the coastal communities and all the people who have a vested interest are heard in order to make sure that any changes brought forward work for everyone in a holistic and well thought out way.
There are serious outstanding sovereignty issues that need to be addressed around Lough Foyle and Rockall. The Irish Government and the Department of Foreign Affairs must get real about these territorial disputes to ensure they can be resolved.