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Monday 10 December 2018

Ireland to take in 25 migrants from Mediterranean

Some of the 230 migrants rescued by a Lifeline ship
Some of the 230 migrants rescued by a Lifeline ship

Shona Murray

Ireland is taking in 25 migrants stranded on a ship in the Mediterranean after it was refused entry to offload the passengers in nearby EU member states.

The Department of Justice is charged with bringing the rescued civilians, most of whom are from South Sudan, to Ireland over the next week or so.

The ship operated by German charity Lifeline, has been at sea for six days with 230 rescued people on board.

Malta and Italy are two of the main landing spots for migrants coming from Libya - most of whom have used illegal smugglers to try to make their way to Europe.

But neither country would allow the migrants to disembark unless the burden was shared by other European countries.

The Lifeline charity rescued the migrants from unseaworthy rubber dinghies last Thursday.

Conditions have deteriorated onboard and one person was airlifted due to illness yesterday.

The ship is in the process of docking in Malta as plans have now been agreed for several member states including Italy and Ireland to take some of those on board for health and safety reasons.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan were aware of the plans by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to discuss Ireland taking a role in solving the situation.

The decision comes ahead of an EU Council meeting beginning tomorrow where migration will be top of the agenda.

The matter has re-emerged as a serious source of internal tension and acrimony among EU member states. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is under serious pressure from her coalition partners to adopt a more hostile immigration policy on the German border.

Ms Merkel has to come up with a suitable EU-wide policy by the end of this week's summit to avoid further fragmentation both in Brussels, and within her government.

The issue is only due to worsen as the summer is the best time of year to chance the treacherous trip across the sea to European shores.

Irish Independent

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