Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady has expressed his anger at the revelation that a Killybegs-registered trawler, the Marliona, was confronted by a British Navy vessel last week and ordered away from a fishing area off the Donegal coast.
The Wicklow TD accused the British Navy of “arrogance of the highest order” and of “once again endangering Irish fishing vessels.”
Speaking yesterday, Teachta Brady said: “On one level, we have the outrageous scenario of a foreign power ordering an Irish vessel out of Irish waters. On the other, we have a situation where a British warship was engaged in a joint operation with a British submarine.
“The disregard for Irish sovereignty is arrogance of the highest order. But, alongside this we have the endangerment of Irish fishing vessels and their crews by a British submarine.
“I thought that we had left this carry-on behind with the Cold War.
“For decades, British submarines have infringed on Irish sovereign waters, leading to tragedy and loss of life when submarines have got caught up in fishing nets and pulled trawlers under.
“It is staggering and unacceptable that this flagrant disregard for the safety of Irish fishing crews is continuing. This cannot be allowed to stand.
“I will ensure that this incident will not be allowed to be swept under the carpet. We need answers as to why this has been allowed to happen.
“I understand that the Department of Foreign Affairs has launched an investigation into the incident, and I will be in contact with the Minister to ensure that the government’s response reflects the seriousness of the matter.
“I also want to commend the response of the Irish Navy, which ordered Irish vessels to the area to ensure the safety of the fishing vessel in question.
“This incident underlines the need to end the running down of the country’s defence forces and naval service by government.”