• December 9, 2018

Great indignation and much spouting from the UK, EU and NATO when the Ukrainians and Russians had a naval clash at the Strait of Kerch in the Sea of Azov. It’s debatable who engineered the confrontation each side blames the other what is not in doubt is that Russia wants to secure the Sea of Azov so it can further secure its grip on Crimea which it has illegally annexed from Ukraine.

Closer to home and in Ireland a similar territorial dispute quietly simmers. Ever since partition the sovereignty of both Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle has been a source of dispute between the 26 County Dublin government and the United Kingdom. This article in the UK Independent last year set out some of the background:


Bizarrely the UK claim sovereignty over ALL of Lough Foyle and similar disputes beset Carlingford Lough. In the case of the latter the Irish Navy was deployed to the Lough during ‘the troubles’ after incursions by UK marine inflatables on the Irish side. There was also the incident in which UK troops fired across the Lough killing an English civilian on the Co Louth side near Omeath!

Of course the Celtic League DO NOT ACCEPT Ireland should be partitioned at all and indeed we opposed the decision by the Irish government to amend Article 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution in 1999.

However in a situation where partition is a fact of life then normal process is for seas to be divided evenly. Sadly for the UK if they acceded to this then in Lough Foyle ships heading into the Lough to Derry Port would have to use the deep water channel on the Donegal side of the Lough while this would be alright for merchant vessels it would be problematic for UK or NATO warships. Hence the UK opt for a ‘Sea of Azov’ approach – claiming the lot! That’s ok until you have to bandstand about what other States are doing at the United Nations!

Bernard Moffatt

Assistant General Secretary
Celtic League

Talks are ongoing between the Irish and British governments relating to the jurisdiction of Carlingford Lough and the unresolved ownership of Lough Foyle
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