Cross-Border Projects.

I know I have raised this matter with regard to Magilligan on previous occasions but the situation has changed slightly. The Secretary of State, Sean Woodward, confirmed to me that a decision has been made to review the status of this international port. Magilligan is not an international port. It is merely a slipway presented by Donegal County Council and Limavady Borough Council to facilitate a roll-on roll-off ferry. We tried to put a marina there but it failed. Rowing boats fail because of the current.

Part of the 1949 Act which made us a republic states we would not be treated by the UK as a foreign power for matters of law and citizens are not to be considered as foreign for legislative purposes, rather they are to be treated as Commonwealth people. According to the Good Friday Agreement, it is correct to refer to the 32 counties and the 26 counties as the Irish nation. Therefore, making reference to the Good Friday Agreement and the 1949 Act, I ask the Minister of State to bring it to the attention of the UK Government that we are solidly behind having the international status given to Magilligan removed and that it be considered a domestic service. It is important to do so because the security attached to an international port is stymying the development of this ferry service.

I assure people that the ferry is not a risk. It is out for tender and the more tenders received the better. However, the cost of security is making it quite difficult. Can the Government endorse the 1949 Act and the Good Friday Agreement and state a roll-on roll-off ferry which goes on to a slipway in Magilligan is only that? The letter I received from the Secretary of State, Sean Woodward, stated it was an international port for international shipping and ships. There is no way anyone could interpret it as this. Even the UK authorities are recognising this now.

This matter has been discussed on previous occasions and I will not detail the background of the regulations. In the European context, Regulation 725/2004/EC brought the maritime security requirements of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, SOLAS, into community law and made substantial sections of various codes mandatory in the member states.

In Ireland, 52 port facilities are subject to the requirements of the regulation. Greencastle has not been so designated by the authorities here. The responsibility for maritime security in the port facility of Magilligan rests with the British Department for Transport and it has so designated it. As this ferry service operates across an inland waterway, rather than to sea, my officials have been in contact with their counterparts in the UK to consider a proposal that the ferry service as a whole should be considered as a domestic service falling outside the scope of the EU regulation. The UK authorities have designated it as international. I know it is not a very impressive building. We have not designated the Greencastle side.

The Department continues to monitor the situation closely and to seek a satisfactory resolution to the maritime security related difficulties, which have arisen in connection with this service. I suggest the Senator asks the Minister for Foreign Affairs about the 1949 Act but we are working on the practical issues and trying to get the UK to consider the matter differently. It designated its side as international and we have asked for this to be changed.

I thank the Minister of State for his reply. All I seek is that it is designated a domestic service and in what I say I am trying to provide the Minister of State with the ammunition required to do this, which is the 1949 Act and the Good Friday Agreement. Now that the UK designation is being reviewed, it is timelier than ever for us to continue to fight this corner.

The Seanad adjourned at 4.30 p.m. sine die.