Friday 13 December 2019

Investigation launched after eight migrants found on ship in Waterford

Stock photo
Stock photo

Ralph Riegel and Mícheál Ó Scannáil

An investigation has been launched after eight stowaways were found on a freighter ship this evening.

The group, who are believed to be Albanian, were discovered on a ship shortly after it had berthed in Waterford.

The freighter berthed at Belview Port, the container port for Waterford, shortly after 4pm this evening.

It is understood one of the migrants made themselves known to a member of the ship crew.

The captain of the freighter was immediately informed and he contacted Waterford Gardai.

Uniformed Gardai, accompanied by members of the Garda National Immigration Bureau, went to Belview Port to assess the situation.

All eight migrants are said to be in good health.

However, several said they were hungry and had apparently not eaten since they somehow got on board the vessel at a European port several days ago.

It was initially unclear whether the freighter had sailed from Rotterdam or Antwerp for Ireland.

All eight were to be brought to Ballybricken Garda Station.

The group, understood to be all comprised of young men, were given hot food and drinks as well as a precautionary health checks.

Several had complained of being very cold.

They are now expected to claim asylum in Ireland.

If so, they will then be taken to a Direct Provision centre while Gardai attempt to confirm their nationalities, their identities and how they managed to stowaway on board the freighter.

The ship docked at Belview Port which is located some 2km downstream of Waterford city and was about to start unloading its cargo.

A garda spokesperson said in a statement: "All eight are believed to be adult males from Eastern Europe. All males are in good medical condition.

"Garda Immigration Officers attached to Waterford Garda Station are currently dealing with the males and they will be processed under the immigration law.

"An Garda Síochána continue to investigate all the circumstances of this incident. No further comment at this time. No spokesperson available at this time."

The discovery came almost two weeks after 16 migrants were discovered the back of a container bound for Ireland on the Cherbourg/Rosslare ferry.

Fourteen of the group were adults and two were teenage boys.

They are believed to be Kurdish nationals from Iran and Iraq.

All had understood they were on their way to the UK rather than Ireland.

This comes after 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead in a refrigerated lorry container in Essex on October 23, and more recently, a group of 14 men, and two boys, were discovered alive inside a trailer on a ferry bound for Ireland on November 20.

A total of 11 of 14 Iraqi Kurd migrants who were housed at the Direct Provision Centre in Baleskin, Dublin after being found, left within hours of being placed there.

It is thought that when found aboard the ferry, they were attempting to make their way to the UK, and after going missing from the direct provision centre, they continued that journey.

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