Donegal senator slams NI Secretary of State over boundary dispute

A Donegal based senator has labelled the Northern Ireland Secretary of State 'arrogant' over disputed territorial claims between Britain and Ireland.

Sinn Fein senator, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan to challenge the latest pronouncement from the British Government on the ownership of Lough Foyle.

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In response to a parliamentary question, the British Secretary of State for the North, James Brokenshire asserted that his Government's position remains that "the whole of Lough Foyle is within the UK".

The ownership of the seabed and waterline at Lough Foyle on the Derry-Donegal border has long been disputed – with confusion about whether the area falls under the jurisdiction of the Irish Republic or the United Kingdom.

The UK Crown Estate claims propriety ownership of the sea floor of Lough Foyle to the high water mark on the Donegal side of the lough. However the Irish Government disputes this, claiming the Lough Foyle foreshore belongs to the Republic of Ireland under its State Property Act (1954).

Senator Mac Lochlainn said: "This is an arrogant and provocative pronouncement from James Brokenshire but unfortunately it is a repeat of previous pronouncements and again and again, previous Irish Governments have failed to sort it out.

“I am calling on the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan to immediately challenge this assertion on behalf of the Irish people.

“I am also calling on Minister Flanagan to clarify what is the status of the negotiations between the two governments on the ownership of the Lough.

“The Loughs Agency tasked with responsibility for managing Lough Foyle by both governments have been repeatedly calling for a resolution so that the real tourism and fisheries potential of the Lough can be fully realised.

“Minister Flanagan also needs to clearly outline why agreement has not been reached to date.”

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