Irish ​Naval Service warships will be needed to deal with fishing tensions, the Irish Parliament has been told.

Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister Simon Coveney warned that there would be “tensions between fleets” in the event of no trade deal being agreed between Britain and the EU, with local media raising prospects of confrontations akin to the Cod Wars between British and Icelandic fishermen in 1973 in which vessels were damaged.

Coveney was quoted as saying:

“That would obviously put pressure on the Naval Service. In the absence of an agreement on fisheries, I think we will have a very very complex problem on her hands at sea in terms of tensions between fleets. And we will need to manage that as best we can. That will obviously put pressure on the Naval Service. We need to get our fleet back up to a more acceptable strength. And we need to get our ships back out to sea.”

This comes despite recent news, reported by the Irish Examiner, that the manpower crisis in the Irish Naval Service has deepened again resulting in ships being unable to deploy on patrol missions patrol because they are short of crew.

“LÉ Niamh was to go on patrol last Monday but was forced to cancel sailing when a communications specialist earmarked for the four-week patrol was unable to join the crew due to illness. The Irish Examiner understands at least three such incidents have occurred in recent months and that it is becoming a growing problem associated with critical shortages of communications specialists, medics, marine engineers, engine-room fitters, and electronics and electrical technicians. Nearly 15 months ago, a decision was made to take two ships out of operations and to disperse their crews around the rest of the fleet to ensure the remaining ships were adequately manned.”

The Times recently confirmed that two Irish ships will be tied up due to a lack of crew LÉ Ciara and LÉ Niamh. Last year, two other vessels, the LÉ Eithne and the LÉ Órla, were also placed into ‘operational reserve’ in ‘operational reserve’ due to a lack of crew.

The situation is so bad, it has left Irish TD Cathal Berry to claim that Ireland will be left “defenceless” and with no naval service in three years unless action is taken on the crisis. He told the Irish Sunday Mirror here:

“There is a feeling a sense in the Defence Forces that they are still regarded as cannon fodder, just to be lined up in broad daylight and walked into the enemy machine guns. There won’t be a naval service in two or three years’ time unless action is taken urgently. If it’s business as usual the country is in trouble. We won’t be neutral anymore we will be completely defenceless. Fifty sailors have left the navy this year alone, the equivalent of a whole ship’s company have left during the Covid crisis. We know there is a recession coming and people are leaving because they can’t afford to stay.

Of the three services the navy are in the worst situation. A third naval ship is going to be tied up in October unless immediate action is taken. We have two ships in Cork harbour sitting there and no sailors to crew them. If a third ship is tied up you will have about €100million worth of Irish hardware, assets, just sitting in Haulbowline rusting away, it’s an absolute scandal.”

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rfn_weston

Have to say, the headline seems a little more dramatic than reading the transcript.

They seem to be more concerned with rEU shipping fleets having to now fish in EU waters assuming a no-deal Brexit. As opposed to Irish Navy policing the UK fishing vessels it reads as though they are talking about policing the rest of the EU in their own waters once they are kicked out of ours (assuming they are)? Or have I missed something?

Daniele Mandelli

Agree, that is how I read it too. Last sentence is key.

Phil C

Seems weird given the recent irritation over a misleading headline about bombing a Scottish island to follow up with this two days later.Glass houses and stones spring to mind.

rfn_weston

The gods do listen after all! A more appropriate headline has been updated it would seem. How very humble of you Mr Allison to do so without need for comment. Good example of why I enjoy tuning in.

John Clark

There are those in the EU that seem resolutely determined to build the end of this year into an explosive crisis of instability, won’t they be disappointed when it turns into a damp squib!

Deal or no deal, life will go on and business on both sides will find it’s route through.

If import fees are placed on car imports ( for example), then manufacturers will find a way of reducing the price, by slight of hand, to accommodate it.

Business always finds a way, the eternal rules of supply and demand and international commerce will win out.

rfn_weston

In the end John, the rich will make it work because it suits them to do so.

Currently they stand to make more money with a deal so they advertise the end of the world if no-deal happens. But as you say, if no-deal does happen… They’ll still need to make their money and stay rich… hence it will inevitably work itself out.

Just may take a while and be a bit of a bumpy road until that happens.

John Clark

Absolutely, life will go on after a few bumps.

The EU will put themselves in a very difficult position with a no deal situation, as the UK could (and will) work out a killer trade alliance with the US and the EU will have zero input, or influence.

Such an agreement could seriously damage the German banking sector ( among others) as we slash the red tape, deregulation is a truly terrifying prospect for the red tape loving EU….

Mark

No matter what deal may or may not be worked out, of course the EU would have zero input into a UK Trade Deal with anyone else, though I wouldn’t be so certain that any US Deal would be more beneficial to the UK, as the US naturally strives to make any FTA more beneficial to them than the other nation.

Andy P

Oh you’re so cynical rfn_weston….. sadly I share your world view. Life will go on and we just have to hope the rich drag us ‘little people’ with them when things settle down post-Brexit.

rfn_weston

It’s a shame that being cynical is the most prudent stance but hey, it is.

Andy P

Getting older plays a part, you’ve seen it all before. Saying that, I wouldn’t want to be young, daft and idealistic again, I tried it once but I think I’ve grown out of it.

Bob2

Interesting article below highlighting how fishing rights in U.K. waters are owned by a small number of British fishing baron families. Interesting that the biggest fishing barons in Northern Ireland have sold all their fishing boats and simply make millions sub-letting their quotas.

these Families will fight hand and nail to retain their ownership of fishing quotas post brexit.

http://www.marinet.org.uk/who-owns-the-uk-fishing-industry-and-its-fishing-quotas.html

Mark B

Parliament might have to look at that. It was not that way before the EU perhaps it should die with it

Bob2

You are right Mark that quotas did not exist before we joined the EU, but neither did the 200 mile EEZ, which was established in the 1980s. Before we joined the eu we could only regulate fishing up to 12 miles from the coast. In the high seas there was unregulated fishing, which, with the development of the industrialised super trawlers, lead to decimation of the fish stocks. Post brexit we will be able to determine fishing rights in the whole EEZ, but we will also be responsible for protecting the wildlife within the EEZ. I’m not sure what form… Read more »

Mark B

Good point. It will be interesting to see how all this pans out.

ChariotRider

Hi Bob2,

Great post Bob.

There are quite a few reserves in the UK already as explained on this website. ‘Certain’ fishing techniques are already banned in these areas, so perhaps not as comprehensive as you propose, but at least it start.

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/marine-protected-areas

Cheers CR

Mark

It’s a given that there’s likely to be an increase in issues post Brexit, whether it’s other EU nation fleets in Irish waters or issues with UK boats fishing in Irish waters, an without question the manpower issue is still there, Finance won’t release funds in fear of knock on pay inflation from other sections of the Public Service. That being said, laying up the two Peacocks is “minor” tbh, they are the least capable hulls in the fleet and suffer from issues with berthing compared to the newer hulls. Meanwhile Niamh is now out of action due to a… Read more »

DaveyB

Simple answer, rejoin the Union, then there wouldn’t be a problem of funding or crewing.

Mark

Nice trolling, and given the RN has had hulls laid up as well not true.

DaveyB

Sorry, Clickbait, couldn’t resist it!

The Navy’s “manpower” has actually improved as recruitment is above the required levels. Whether this is down to the Covid furlough and people being laid off is a possibility. Especially when it’s seen the Navy can pretty much guarantee a job for a minimum engagement of 6 years. The prospect of ships being laid up due to manpower shortages will hopefully be a thing of the past.

Andy P

Its definitely influenced by covid DaveyB, I’ve still got mates in recruitment and both ‘re-joiners’ and ‘new joiners’ have increased recently. Its pretty crap though when boys are only wanting in when there’s not many jobs ‘outside’. The navy still need to fix why they can’t keep people when things are ‘normal’.

Mark

One of the many issues the Irish DF has is the system was never set up for “re-joiners”, legislation for that only passed the Daíl this summer, and as ever the DOD is trying everything to slow that down. Add in the pay issues and retention is the major crisis.

Andy P

That’s interesting Mark. I’d have thought a smaller Force would be a bit more ‘old boys’ with regard to re-joiners, they’re a known quantity for starters and you can maybe save some cash and/or time on training, depending on if they’re going back in to do their previous trade/branch. That would be the one’s you’d want back in of course, its not for everyone.

Mark

Usual issue, Finance have little interest in getting people back in at same ranks/pay. Generally their position is “less is better” for the DF.

Gavin Gordon

I wonder if it was not ever thus, AP? The Royal Navy was always a good option in times gone past, relative to many contemporary choices. It’s major bad ‘press’ came from that version of conscription. In the modern period landward occupations, combined with universal social security measures, have become normal. Covid has put a strain on our current status quo.
That said, the Forces are paying more attention to the ‘whole life’ experience of recruits, so there may be some hope. Not to mention that some of the kit we have is definitely more Gucci.

Andy P

I’m not saying its right as such Gavin but the world has changed and the navy definitely hasn’t kept up. It ain’t like the adverts, at least most the time and there’s a lot more ‘hurry up and wait’. That’s always been the case o course but expectations are different now and those expectations have been pandered to from the career office to the ‘front line’ where the reality hits. Can’t say I have the answers but I would suggest to the mob that its a false economy to make the reality point when the newb hits a unit. Hey… Read more »

Robert Blay

That’s been the case for decades. Nothing like a good war, or a recession to boost recruitment. 😄

farouk

I read the above as simply an attempt by the defence minister to garner more funding for the service he is in charge of, by using the spectre of the British (the old and soon to be new enemy) There was an incident last year where 2 NI fishing trawlers (actually small boats) were picked up by the Irish for fishing in their waters. Looking up the BBC article I came across this salient snippet: Northern Ireland fishing boats impounded by Irish NavyAt present, Northern Ireland vessels are banned from fishing inside the Republic of Ireland’s six-mile limit.But the Republic’s… Read more »

geoff

The very last thing I would wish to see is a Icelandic type situation developing between the UK and Ireland or indeed any member of the EU. As a dedicated fence sitter on the whole Brexit process, I am saddened by the damage that has been inflicted on international relationships in Europe and the costly and complex process of disentanglement. Such a pity that some sort of middle ground could not have been negotiated by Cameron before the Referendum. In addition as an Ulster Scot by heritage I am particularly concerned about the negative effects of Brexit on the NI… Read more »

Mark

I highly doubt we’ll get to an Icelandic level but there are issues likely to turn up, the interplay between NI fishing, ROI fishing and UK fishing areas even before you add in the other EU boats is going to be “tricky” potentially, and lets not even get started on territorial issues like Lough Foyle. Don’t think realistically anything Cameron could have got would have been enough to satisfy the Leave side, and he picked a pretty bad time to try and force it after already burning a lot of bridges in the EU during the Eurozone crisis. Unfortunately the… Read more »

geoff

Cameron did warn of the NI conundrum but few on either side really thought about the consequences

Mark

Even Cameron didn’t put much thought into it tbh, from whats been released from the Irish side there was pretty much no major consideration on the matter or the complexities before Cameron called the vote or during the campaign.

Joe

There is no difference between NI fishing and UK fishing. NI is in the UK so it is the same

Mark

You mean apart from issues like the NI fleet fishing grounds being in Irish waters, or that NIs main fishing market is the Republic, not GB…

Dern

To be fair, the UK seems to have been pretty eager to torpedo any attempts at finding a middle ground.

Tim

Sorry what ? The uk is torpedoing the talks lol, the uk has just said uk waters will remain uk waters and the e.u cannot have control of them which is not unreasonable it’s the e.u saying u can’t expect to have the same access to the e.u as u had as a member but we want to have the same access to your waters

Gavin Gordon
DaveyB

It’s a shame that the CTAS has such a relatively low rate of fire compared to the BAe/Bofors 40, i.e. 200 vs 300 rounds per minute. I guess the rotating breech and the return to battery means it will be inherently slower? Itf the rate of fire could have been increased, would this weapon system have been chosen for the T31s?

Gavin Gordon

Cannot see the need, 3P ammo for both 57 & 40mm seems a pragmatic approach for the T31. Of course, if they can get guided munitions down towards these calibres at some point that would be a real upgrade. I do foresee the Bofors 40mm as a suitable exchange for the 30mm on the carriers, ultimately. They’ve more flexibility and enhancement potential as point defence assets without the FOD issues of a missile. However, I still think that twinning with a Phalanx-type installation has merit due to the on mount radar availability.

DaveyB

The thoughts were it would have commonality with the Army’s Ajax and Warrior projects. So logistically, I thought it would make more sense to have the same gun system plus ammo thus reducing overall costs. The version the French are getting for their OPVs is non-deck penetrating. But it still requires guidance from the ship’s radar, though it has its own organic optical tracking system mounted on the turret roof. It is extremely feasible for the turret to be installed with its own dedicated short range radar, which would make it a true plug and play system.

Gavin Gordon

Eternal discussion, DB. Either way, gun systems are coming back into their own, especially with foreseeable developments. Something we can all be pleased with, hopefully. We only went wild on dropping the idea with batch 1 T22, and how long did that last?
Regards

Bob2

140 rounds does not sound much if it is a mixture of anti-air and anti-surface.

Andy P

Not a dig at you Gavin, that was an interesting link, cheers, but the way some go on about our OPV’s on here, you’d think the 30 mil was breech loaded.

Gavin Gordon

True, it’s still a Bushmaster. I would not want to be in front of it – unless I was a killer tomato being shot at by a rating under training. I do wish we could see YouTube videos with it controlled by the EOD for a change.

Andy P

Whoops, trying to smart and made an arse of it, that should be MUZZLE LOADED.

Harry Bulpit

Dont the Irish already use their naval vessels for fishery protection? As we do.

Mark

Yep, the issue is manpower related.

Harry Bulpit

Well that’s irealands problem.

Mark

Did anyone suggest it wasn’t?

Harry Bulpit

No one. Just stating the obvious.

Liam

This sort of talk shows just how silly things are getting with Brexit. The Irish are our friends and neighbours (and relatives). There is no reason for any tension between us at all.

Mark

You might have missed some history there.

Neil o'Neill

As coming from an Eire English family.. I think its time to let it go with the whole history thing…my god we can hold a grudge

geoff

Yes maybe Liam did 🙂 but the relationship is more complicated. I never found any hostility in the ROI on a personal level as a Northern Prod and even in NI things were improving although there remained some stubborn areas, so I would agree with Liam that the Irish are friends and neighbours but tensions exist in some areas. For me the solution the the Brexit mess is onvious-in the best interests of both the EU and UK and new and realistic modus vivendi HAs to be found in everyones interests-the EU in my view need to be a little… Read more »

geoff

scuse spellos

Mark

depends on who you are I suppose, of the Brits of course someone from NI is going to have the least issues, an English person is a different matter 😉

In terms of Brexit, it’s not so much “punishing the UK” more the UK being treaty like any other non EU nation, that by default means a more restrictive and limited relationship

Airborne

Why just English?

Liam

We have a bit of history with a lot of countries. That’s the past. Ireland needs to trade with us on good terms. Only silly posturing by politicians is the problem.

Mark

Past shapes the future, ignoring it helps nothing. And we do trade with you on good terms, doesn’t mean that we are seeking to lower the value of that trade and replace the UK market share with other nations due to Brexit.

George

Hello folks hope all are well.
Yes agree with RFNWeston / Daniele.
This matter will spill over to next year even if a deal is made or not, especially if there are EU fishing fleets mixed with UK fleets in the same area at once.
The UK could help patrol for Irish navy similar to the arrangement we have with the security over Irish territorial sky space, the RAF & MOD agreement with Ireland’s government. I wonder if this has been mentioned in dispataches between HMG and the Irish government?
Cheers
George

Mark

Not a runner, particularly with how relations between Dublin and London had declined, besides which the RN fisheries patrol are likely to be hard pressed just managing U.K. waters let alone Irish waters.

Mark B

Surely the ROI have a choice – either fund their military properly or risk having to beg neighbouring nations for help should the need arise.

Mark

The fishing issue isn’t going to rise to that level even if the worst case happens, and if it did again, the RN is not going to be the one called on to help, the RAF deal is different.

geoff

..and of course we can throw in Rockall just to spice things up further! 🙂

Mark

Well we’ve already had issues with the SNP over Rockall in the last year…

Mark B

It suits the UK if the ROI get say the French to guard their waters and their skies for that matter. So long as somebody does. We have had disputes with the French, Germans etc. in the past but they have managed to get over it as the Irish will in time. Our objective at this time is to deter our potential enemies. Fishing is a sideshow.

Mark

Yet enough to be a major block on talks…
The Republic most likely will continue as status quo, given the RAF operations have only ever been Bear Tracking I don’t see that changing, nor any move by Dublin to replace the agreement with the French if the UK chooses to stop Bear Tracking.

Mark B

Oh I would have thought it sent a message to the Russians to keep off the grass. “Neutral” countries are normally the first casualties in a serious war and I don’t think it is in anyone’s interest to allow them to gain a foothold.

Mark

The issue with that is for Russia to “gain a foothold” as you say they would have to effectively fight their way through all of NATO, it’s not really a credible threat against Ireland.

Mark B

On the contrary. Russian have a navy and a lot of merchant vessels. Dropping a few dozen older tanks plus support on the shores of the ROI should be a walk in the park. That would then give them airfields and ports from which to attack NATO in the rear. My guess is you you be attacked before the Baltic states.

Mark

Think Tom Clancy is dead but good try…

Mark B

Tom Clancy was a good story teller but I’m guessing that he might have had a little help with some of his story lines.

Most enemies try not to take the most obvious line of attack and most countries do not have the same enemies they had 100 years ago. Who are the enemies of the ROI nowadays?

Mark

In terms of military direct action, not many, as I’ve said you have to get through all of the Northern Flank of NATO before you get a force to Ireland, and even with the limited strength of the Army, they’ve more than enough Javelins to handle “a few dozen older tanks” or something like that, hell one of the few regular training operations is defending/taking one of the disused airports.

For Russia and China, Ireland is more useful as an espionage site than something to try and take.

Bob2

Interesting article fishing rights post brexit from the other side of the channel:

https://www.france24.com/en/20201009-brexit-eu-and-uk-in-choppy-waters-over-fishing-rights