Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Ireland-Norway Petroleum Negotiations.


asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy if he will make a statement on the present status of the negotiations or discussions with the Norwegian Government, or Norwegian interests, aimed at securing access for Irish exploitation of the Norwegian oil-fields.

I indicated in reply to a parliamentary question on 2 May 1979 that contacts of a preliminary nature had taken place with the Norwegian authorities concerning an application by an Irish company for an interest in a petroleum exploration licence in the Norwegian offshore.

There have been no developments in the matter since then.

In which Department did these contacts originate?

In my Department and the Department of Fisheries and Forestry.

Would the Minister be interested to know that his colleague, the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, denied in the most emphatic terms here on the last occasion when the Dáil met, on Thursday, 31 May, that he had been involved in any negotiations whatever on this matter and also denied that fish were part of the deal or of any negotiations?

As far as I am aware, the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry did not take part personally in any negotiations. They were done through my Department with the co-operation of the Department of Fisheries and Forestry.

Would I be in order in quoting to the Minister present some of the things——

The Deputy may not quote at Question Time.

Then I refer the Minister for his own information to the Official Report, Volume 314, column 1978, and the following paragraphs. He will find there that the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry has denied in the most emphatic possible terms what I repeatedly put to him. Knowing quite well that a straight answer from that Minister would not be like a straight answer from other Ministers I asked that he should say yes or no as to whether concessions in Irish fishing grounds were part of this suggested deal, to say whether they had any part in this discussion.

I am calling Question No. 11.