THROUGH THE ARCHIVE: Shots at trawler off Donegal coast

From the News Letter, June 16, 1950

The Malin Head coastline of Co Donegal
The Malin Head coastline of Co Donegal
The Malin Head coastline of Co Donegal

In the House of Commons, Westminster, the previous day, Captain L P S Orr asked the Secretary for Commonwealth Relations whether he had any statement to make on the circumstances in which the trawler Loch Esk was fired on by Irish Republican fishermen off Malin Head on the night of June 10, 1950.

Mr P Gordon-Walker replied that the skipper of the Loch Esk had stated that while fishing off the coast of Inishtrahull Island, Donegal, the trawler was fired on from three small boats. The skipper had been wounded in the thigh. The authorities in the Irish Republic had stated that none of the fishery protection vessels was involved. Local police had questioned fishermen and had arrested a man who had been charged with causing grievous bodily harm to the skipper the Loch Esk.

Sir Ronald Ross asked whether this did not show, “how essential it was that British fishery protection vessels should operate in waters adjoining our waters to protect British trawlers and to see that the regulations were fulfilled in every detail”.

Mr Gordon-Walker replied: “It would be difficult to answer that question without prejudicing the issues in this case.

Professor D L Savory asked whether the Secretary of State was aware that no fisherman from Eire would be denied the right of fishing in British or Northern Ireland waters.

He demanded: “And why do we not demand reciprocity?”

Mr Gordon-Walker replied: “I think that we really must be careful not to assume the facts until they are established in a court of law.”

Sir Herbert Williams (Conservative, Croydon East) said that he knew that members could not refer to matter which were sub judice in British courts.

He asked: “Did that also apply to matter of sub judice in Eire courts?”

The Speaker of the House replied to Sir Herbert: “I would like to have notice of that.”