European parliamentary candidate Peter Casey has “reclaimed Lough Foyle for Ireland” by raising the Irish tricolour on seabed claimed by the UK Crown Estate.
The UK’s claim of jurisdiction over Lough Foyle has been disputed for decades. The Crown Estate claims ownership of the seabed up to the high-water mark, which is just yards from the Donegal coast.
However, Mr Casey who recently built a controversial sea wall outside his home in Greencastle, Co Donegal, has now hoisted an Irish tricolour at the end of the structure –right at the high-water mark.
A video showing the EU parliamentary candidate hoisting the Irish flag on a permanent, fifty feet-high flagpole has generated great interest on social media. In the footage, Mr Casey states: “I’ve just reclaimed Lough Foyle for Ireland”.
Mr Casey says: “The Crown claims ownership of the water just outside my front door and right out to the end of Lough Foyle. Ireland, quite rightly, lays claim to its half of the waterway. However that will have major implications for shipping bound for Derry port, as the channel is on the Donegal side of the lough.
“It’s somewhat akin to the Rockall ownership dispute, but a lot closer to home,” he adds.
Lough Foyle, which separates counties Donegal and Derry, has been a disputed territory since partition.
After the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, the Loughs Agency was given responsibility for administering Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough (the only other waterway straddling both jurisdictions – counties Louth and Down).
However, following the UK’s Brexit vote, then Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire reasserted Britain’s claim over the entirety of Lough Foyle. That claim was rejected by Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.
Mr Casey adds: “I don’t accept British claims that all of Lough Foyle comes under UK jurisdiction. I’ve raised our flag here simply to highlight the issue in the hope that an amicable and fair resolution can be reached between Ireland and the UK. If Britain does finally leave the EU, then it will be operating under different fishing rules, so this really is an area where agreement is needed.”
Lough Foyle was a key strategic naval base for Britain during World War II and was the scene of the surrender of Germany’s U-boat fleet in 1945.