Anglo-Irish tensions rise as British navy boards Irish vessel to stop it from fishing off Rockall

Anglo-Irish tensions rise as British navy boards Irish vessel to stop it from fishing off Rockall

AN IRISH boat was boarded by the British navy on Monday after it was found fishing in the waters around Rockall.

The Northern Celt was told by the navy that it wasn't allowed to fish within 12 nautical miles of the North Atlantic islet due to Brexit.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that it is aware of the incident and has been in contacts with the UK as well as local Scottish authorities.

A UK fisheries patrol vessel, the Jura, reportedly arrived in the area on January 1, just a day after the UK's Brexit transition period ended.

Crew members from the Jura boarded the Northern Celt as it prepared to cast nets near Rockall.

"We were fishing in Rockall and members of the crew from the Jura boarded us," fisherman Adrian McClenaghan told RTÉ News.

"They informed us that we could no longer fish inside the 12-mile limit of Rockall."

Mr McClenaghan has since been handed a temporary license to fish in UK waters, but claims that he cannot afford not to fish there, as it accounts for 30% of his annual catch.

Rockall is a tiny uninhabited island, no more than 25 metres wide, around 400km from the coast of Co. Donegal, and around 370km from the coast of Scotland.

The islet has been subject to international disputes in the past, even as recently as June 2019, when the Scottish government said it would board any Irish vessels seen in the area.

Rockall was claimed by the United Kingdom in 1955, and was officially recognised as part of Scotland in 1972. However, Ireland doesn't recognise the claim.

The nearest permanently inhabited place to Rockall is an island in the Outer Hebrides, in Scotland, around 370km away.

Ireland has always maintained that it doesn’t recognise Rockall as an official international borderline.

Because of this, they feel as if they should be allowed within the 12-mile limit that the UK has set up as part of its claim over the island.