Sunday 18 March 2018

Irish aid workers 'held' on ship arrive safely at Greek port

Louise Hogan and Grainne Cunningham

A SHIP carrying 10 aid workers -- including two Irish nationals -- who alleged the captain had held them captive, has docked at a Greek port.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said last night he understood that everyone on the boat was in the care of the Greek authorities.

The captain of Strofades IV took the volunteers to his native Greece after abruptly leaving Libya's Derna harbour on Thursday.

Ship managers said the "activists" jumped on board and the captain set sail to stop others boarding amid fears they would divert the ship to Gaza. Greek Navy commandos boarded the ship yesterday

An official from the Irish embassy in Athens is waiting to speak to David Callender and Kenneth O'Keefe, who both hold Irish passports. However, Greek authorities may decide to deport all of the aid workers.

Ellie Merton, spokeswoman for the activist group, which is part of the Road to Hope aid convoy, said all on board were safe and uninjured.

The ship's Greek managing company has denied reports the aid workers were held against their will.

Ionian Bridge Ship Management said 10 of around 150 activists had jumped on board at Derna. It said the captain was afraid more would board and divert the ship to Gaza, which is under an Israeli naval blockade.

Irish Independent

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