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Farewell Meath... Dr Fatima is new Libyan minister


New Libyan Health Minister Dr Fatima Hamroush at home
in Co Meath last night

New Libyan Health Minister Dr Fatima Hamroush at home in Co Meath last night

New Libyan Health Minister Dr Fatima Hamroush at home in Co Meath last night

A Libyan doctor with Irish nationality will become the newly liberated country's first minister for health.

Dr Fatima Hamroush, who sent her CV in to the new Libyan authorities, did not expect to get the job after living in Ireland for 15 years.

Speaking from her "second home" in Julianstown, Co Meath, last night, Dr Hamroush said she was under no illusions about the challenges that lay ahead of her -- the main one being corruption, which is rampant. As a result there is also personal risk after she takes an oath of office on Monday.

"I know I am taking a risk, we all are. But I know there are some who would like to see me there; I am known for being completely against corruption, I can't tolerate corruption," she said.

Dr Hamroush (53), who has been a consultant ophthalmologist in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda since 2000, will leave Ireland for Libya on Sunday.

She was born in Benghazi and her father was jailed for three years by Muammar Gaddafi's forces in 1969.

The medic came to Ireland with her four children -- Abdulah (25), Fouz (24), Omar (22) and Farah (17) -- because of worsening human rights abuses in the north African state.

"I didn't want to leave the country but wanted to take a break from that. I knew my post-grad would take about four years and by them I would know if the country (Libya) would be better or worse."

Things did not improve and she remained in Ireland and secured a permanent position here; she has worked as a medical ophthalmologist in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and also works at the Mater Hospital and the Beaumont Hospital

She visited Libya but stopped going there in 2006 when her identity became known to Gaddafi's forces.

Speaking about her new role, Dr Hamroush said: "No one going there will be feeling confident that (they) will be safe. We are building something new from everything around us that is a big mess."

Dr Hamroush is a director of Irish Libyan Emergency Aid. She has been active as a letter writer, highlighting the human rights abuses and a vocal supporter of "non-violent opposition".

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The doctor said she felt she could not turn down the opportunity to be part of the transitional government.

"I couldn't refuse it, it would be like a soldier refusing to go to the battlefield," she added.

Fathi Akkari, a lecturer in Tallaght IT, is also to be offered a post in Libya's education ministry.

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