1 June 2006 Edition

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Irish Government signs up to robbery of African fishing rights

In an act of gross hypocrisy the Irish Government last week signed up to a deal between the EU and Morocco to rob the fishing rights of the people of Western Sahara - a nation occupied by Morocco - while at the same time issuing a statement claiming to support the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination.

The dirty deal between the EU and the occupying power was co-signed by Irish Fisheries Minister John Browne on 22 May. It means that from 1 July fishing fleets from Ireland, Spain, France and other EU states will be able to plunder the waters of Western Sahara of even larger quantities of fish. Fishing is a lifeline for the indigenous people of this coastal nation where communities use small traditional sailing craft. Now more giant factory vessels from the EU will be able to enter these waters and 'hoover' up thousands of tonnes of fish, leaving little or nothing for the native people.

Since 1975 the right to national self-determination of the nomadic people of Western Sahara, the Sahrawi, has been recognised by the International Court of Justice. Their liberation movement, Polisario, fought a guerrilla campaign against Morocco from 1973 until 1991 when there was a ceasefire. But Morocco has refused to cede independence or allow a referendum.

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin raised this issue in the Dáil on 24 May. He said the decision was shameful as was "the hypocritical representation subsequently whereby the Government affirmed our continuing recognition of the rights of the people of Western Sahara". He called for the agreement to be brought before the Dáil for debate.

An Phoblacht
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