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Irish fishing leaders warn that fresh conflict over Rockall waters is on the horizon after a three-year transparency battle between the Scottish government and the information commissioner.

According to the Guardian newspaper in London, confidential letters and other heavily redacted documents handed over by the Scottish government show that former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had repeatedly tried to resolve the issue as Ireland was regarded as a key Scottish ally within the European Union.

It was also revealed that the disputed fishing rights around Rockall regularly topped the agenda at meetings between the former First Minister, taoiseach Micheál Martin, his successor Leo Varadkar and in talks with other ministers.

The Guardian report that Irish leaders are prepared to rekindle the Rockall sovereignty issue after it appeared to wane in the wake of Brexit.

Since leaving the EU, the Scottish government has asserted their right to restrict fishing to UK vessels within 12 nautical miles of Rockall. This move angered the Irish fishing fleet, which has long fished in these North Atlantic waters.

Scottish fishery protection vessels have intercepted and boarded Irish trawlers fishing for squid and haddock, with skippers facing arrest and bans from fishing in UK waters. 

Sinn Féin, who appears poised to take power in Dublin, estimates the Rockall ban costs the Irish fishing fleet an estimated €7m (£6m) a year.

They have gone on record saying if able to form the next Irish government, they will be more forceful in pursuing to affirm Irish fishing rights around Rockall. If fresh diplomatic efforts failed, they would then go to international arbitration.

The new documents released by the Scottish government show the Rockall dispute came to a head in September 2018 with Scotland’s then external affairs secretary, Fiona Hyslop, appearing to accuse the Irish side of reneging on an undertaking to halt Irish trawlers fishing around Rockall.

Despite the frosty relations on the topic, Edinburgh and Dublin reportedly remain hopeful of a resolution.