Written Answers. - Protection of Fishermen.

Patrick D. Harte


55 Mr. Harte asked the Minister for the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the most recent incident involving a submarine and a County Down fishing vessel on 13 December; and, in view, of the obvious danger which fishermen fishing the seas around our coast are subjected to as a result of submarines which use the same water, if he will outline the steps he is taking to protect the lives of fishermen.

I am aware of the incident referred to by the Deputy, which occurred to the southwest of the Mull of Kintyre off the Scottish coast. From inquiries made I understand that all the facts of this incident have not yet been established and preliminary investigations carried out by the UK authorities indicate that the cause of the incident is not clear. The Government are however, actively seeking further information regarding the incident.

The Government are very seriously concerned about the dangers that submarines pose to shipping and about the nuclear hazard in the event of an incident involving nuclear powered or armed submarines. We avail of every opportunity in international fora, such as the United Nations and the International Maritime Organisation, to focus attention on the problem. In addition, the Department of Foreign Affairs have raised specific incidents with the authorities of the countries concerned and will continue to do so as the need arises.