Thursday 24 January 2019

Gardaí hunt for five ‘refugees’ who fled from truck ferried into the country

The road has been closed off for a forensic investigation
The road has been closed off for a forensic investigation
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

Gardaí are investigating after a number of people, believed to be refugees, ran from a trailer when the startled truck driver opened its doors in Co Laois on Thursday evening.

The incident happened in the Straboe area on the outskirts of Portlaoise.

The truck driver had stopped the vehicle at 6.50pm and when he opened the doors of the trailer a number of people bolted past him and fled into the surrounding area.

Investigating gardaí, who were concerned about the  welfare of the people involved, began searching the area once the matter was reported.

A Garda helicopter was used to search for what are believed to be five men.

It is not clear what nationality the individuals are.

The truck had travelled to Laois from Rosslare Harbour in Co Wexford, a distance of 125km, which would take up to two hours.

It is not yet clear what port the truck had sailed from, or how long the men were in the trailer.

This is the second time that a group of migrants were found in a truck in Co Laois after  traveling through Rosslare.

Almost a year ago, on August 13, six refugees, including a child, were found when a refrigeration truck was searched by gardaí at Stradbally.

The truck driver alerted gardaí after hearing noises coming from his truck.

Gardaí found six foreign nationals on board – three men, two women and a child.

Last May, a teenage stowaway was found in Croke Park, having hidden in a truck being used for the Rolling Stones concert.

The young man was later taken into the care of Tusla, the child and family agency.

The truck involved in the rock legends’ tour cavalcade had recently passed through the French port of Calais.

In 2016, eight refugees, all Kurdish, were found hiding in a truck in New Ross and later sought asylum in Ireland.

People trying to flee strife in their countries of origin have been known to hide in trucks and cargo at major European ports in the hope of being transported overseas and to safer environs.

Many have died in the process and it is believed the people who fled the truck near Portlaoise are refugees who gained access to the trailer without the knowledge of the driver.

The investigation into the matter is ongoing. Gardaí stressed that they were interested in the welfare of the men who appeared to have travelled such a long distance in the back of a truck. However, it is understood that the search was stood down yesterday afternoon.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Portlaoise garda station on 057 8674100.

This week a report, prepared for Minister Charlie Flanagan, warned that Brexit could  have an enormous impact here as any perceived tightening of UK immigration controls could see “illegals” increasingly look across the Irish Sea instead.

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