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Explanation demanded for submarine fishing trawler incident off Co Down

The Royal Navy must fully explain how a submarine dragged a fishing trawler out to sea, Northern Ireland's Agriculture Minister has warned.

Michelle O'Neill is demanding answers about the incident which happened off the Co Down coast in April.

She said: "We need answers, we need a full report and we need guarantees that it is not going to happen again."

The Karen was carried at 10 knots after the sub snagged in its fishing nets 18 miles from Ardglass - one of the region's main fishing ports. The trawler, which was sent careering backwards through the water, was badly damaged but the four crew escaped unharmed.

Part of the ship's deck had to be lifted and another section was ripped off.

Initially, Ministry of Defence (MoD) minister Penny Mordaunt said she was confident a British submarine was not involved but in a a statement released earlier this month admitted the Royal Navy had caused the damage.

Ms O'Neill said she was "appalled" at the time lapse and called for the fishermen to be compensated.

She told MLAs during Question Time at the Stormont Assembly: "The fishermen involved were very fortunate to survive that incident.

"After such strong, initial denials by the British Navy I am appalled that it has taken them five months to actually admit that it was their responsibility.

"I have severe questions for the British MoD in terms of their approach to this and why they left our fishing industry susceptible to this happening again and potentially a fatality.

"I think there are questions to be asked. I am certainly determined to ask those questions and to get to the bottom of this and make sure it doesn't happen again."

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