Salvage master of the Costa Concordia has Irish roots

Capt. Nick Sloane’s parents left Ireland after their mixed-religion marriage caused familial problems

A police boat patrols in front of the severely damaged right side of the Costa Concordia cruise ship  in Isola del Giglio, Italy. Photograph: Getty

A police boat patrols in front of the severely damaged right side of the Costa Concordia cruise ship in Isola del Giglio, Italy. Photograph: Getty

Thu, Sep 19, 2013, 01:01

Salvage master Capt. Nick Sloane, the mastermind behind Monday’s dramatic righting of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Tuscany, turns out to be a happy by-product of the wretched Catholic-Protestant tensions which blighted the Northern Irish state.

As the surname would suggest, Sloane has Irish origins, with his Protestant father coming from Belfast and his Catholic mother, nèe Binnie, coming from an Irish emigrant family in London. When his parents met, fell in love and married in Belfast, the mixed marriage prompted much strife.

Speaking to The Irish Times last night, 52-year-old Capt. Sloan said that his mother had been de facto excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Furthermore, the bad feeling generated by their mixed marriage prompted his parents to leave Northern Ireland in the late ’50s, moving to then Northern Rhodesia (today Zambia).

His parents did return briefly to Northern Ireland in the mid-’70s, during the Troubles, but that was not a happy experience so they returned to Africa. Although born in Zambia in 1961, Sloane now lives in Somerset West,Cape Town, South Africa with his wife, Sandra, and three children, Nicola, Jonathan and Julia.