Isle of Rockall Talks: January 9th, 2008

Talks over Rockall are due to take place in Dublin on the 9th of January between Ireland, Britain, Denmark and Iceland. The discussions are being marketed as a roundtable effort to bring a long-running dispute over the island which is surrounded by potentially vast reserves of oil and gas.

RTE report:


    The island is the summit of the eroded core of an extinct volcano, 424 kilometres (265 miles), from Ireland and 301.4km (187.3miles), from Scotland. The surrounding elavated seabed is known as the Rockall Plateau. It is seperated from Ireland and Britain by the Rockall Trough. The island was annexed by Britain in 1955.


    Ireland has not claimed the island of Rockall itself, the official position is that it is an uninhabited rock without any territorial waters and therefore irrelevant when determining the boundaries of the exclusive economic zones of Ireland, Iceland, Denmark and Britain.

    In 1990, an agreement was reached between Ireland and Britain on the delimitation of the continental shelf between Ireland and Britain, this also included a line of delimitation across the Rockall Plateau. As a result, a large area is under direct Irish jurisdiction, including part of the Rockall Trough and Plateau. The fact that this is not disputed by Britain, indicates that Ireland has a very strong claim to territories inside the crucial Rockall Plateau, where Rockall Island is located. In 2003, the Irish Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources stated: “Ireland claims an extended continental shelf…up to more than 500 nautical miles (926km), particularly in the Hatton-Rockall area.”


    The talks are ongoing, and a final date has not been given for the the conclusion of these talks. However, given the Irish State’s wholesale giveway of oil and gas licences since the licencing terms were changed by Minister Ray Burke in 1992, an outcome beneficial to Ireland is a remote possibility.


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