Cork Independent Deputy, Michael Collins called for a full Dáil debate on the future of military exercises in the Irish waters
Cork Independent Deputy, Michael Collins has called on the Government to hold a full Dáil debate on the future of military exercises in the Irish EEZ.
This comes after both Russia and France tried to hold such manoeuvres in Irish territorial waters over a period of less than six-months this year.
Fishermen and marine lovers have become concerned that these exercises, where missiles are launched into the sea for testing and high-powered sonar are used, is damaging to sea life in the surrounding area.
In the Dáil yesterday, Deputy Collins called on the Taoiseach Micheál Martin to hold a full Dáil debate saying that it was dangerous to fishermen and marine life.
“Over the past few days, the French authorities have notified Irish authorities that the French navy is going ahead with a military exercise, some of which was going to be inside the Irish economic zone off the south coast. This is the second country, Russia being the first, that has notified Irish authorities that it is to carry out a military exercise within Irish zoned waters in recent months. The French exercise, however, is on a much bigger scale than that proposed previously by Russia.
“We have found ourselves in an astonishing situation over the past few months in regard to Irish territorial waters. This is a danger to the lives of Irish fishermen who are already struggling in terms of their incomes. It is a danger to marine life, to fish, dolphins and whales, and it is a danger to our environment and our neutrality.
“We have been told that the French military exercise is not to go ahead, that it has been put off or that it will happen a foot or two outside of our waters. This is an issue of huge importance to Irish people and warrants a debate. I am calling for a full debate on the issue this week in the Dáil. I would appreciate it if the Taoiseach accepted that.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin replied saying a debate was needed on the whole area of military exercises and the compatibility of such exercises with marine life. He said:
“On the French navy, I understand this is not to take place. I did not have the full and specific details on it coming into the House. I will ask the Whip if we can have a debate on that, or more generally about the whole area of military exercises and the compatibility of such exercises with marine life. We are all interested in protecting marine life. I am aware Deputy Collins would be a long-standing advocate for marine protected areas. It is also about protecting fisheries into the future and marine biodiversity. I would be very much in favour of having a wider debate on that. I am sure the Deputy would endorse that.”
When pushed by Deputy Collins when the debate would be held, the Taoiseach answered that it would be more then likely next week.