Two children and 12 adult migrants discovered on lorry at Rosslare Harbour

Group uncovered after one person inside refrigerated trailer rang UK police while on board the ferry

A total of 14 migrants were discovered hidden within a refrigerated trailer on board a lorry arriving at Rosslare Europort from France.

Emergency services attended the terminal building at the port in the early hours of Monday.

The group, consisting of 12 adults and two children, were hidden within the trailer and are reported to be of Middle Eastern origin.

They were uncovered after one of the people inside the trailer rang the UK police to inform them they were inside the container on board the ferry.


Gardaí took over part of the terminal building in Rosslare to meet the 14 individuals on arrival and a number of units from the National Ambulance Service were on hand to administer medical attention as required.

A garda spokesman said a number of people were discovered when a vehicle arriving in Rosslare Europort was stopped at 3am on Monday.

“A total of 14 persons, including nine males, three adult females and two female children were assessed by medical personnel. Investigations are ongoing,” he said in a statement.

All on board the refrigerated trailer were understood to be in good health and once they were fully checked they were brought by gardaí to Citywest in Dublin to the processing centre.

A Garda source confirmed that those on board the trailer were primarily Kurdish nationals, and, following medical examinations, they were brought to the nearest processing centre.

“There’s very little involvement locally,” the source said. “We just bring them on to the nearest processing centre, which I believe is Citywest in Dublin. From there, the initial processing of their details and documents will be carried out before they are taken to an accommodation centre, and a decision will be made around whether they apply for political asylum.”

Local County Councillor and Operations Resource manager with the National Ambulance Service Ger Carthy said that it was fortunate that this latest incident hadn’t resulted in tragedy.

Mr Carthy said the UK coastguard received a 999 emergency call from the ship enroute to Ireland at about 1am which was then forwarded to Irish authorities, prompting a multi-agency response.

“That original call was that they had difficulty breathing onboard the ship and indeed inside the refrigerated trailer,” he told RTE’s Primetime programme.

“They were checked here by national ambulance service paramedics, advanced paramedics, there was a number of officers here also and they were cleared to be in good health.”

He said he believed the migrants to be Vietnamese, Kurdish and Turkish.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was limited in what he could say as he only had initial reports.

“Our first response is always a humanitarian one to check that they are alive and in good health and my understanding is that that they are. Our next step now is to facilitate voluntary return if they indicate they’re willing to go home,” he said. “And if they choose to apply for asylum, they are legally entitled to do that and we’ll try and process the application as quickly as possible.”

The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, said she was “extremely concerned” by the incident.

“We know from past experience that similar situations have led to tragic fatalities. This was an extremely hazardous undertaking and it is only fortuitous that the same did not happen yesterday,” she said, appealing for anyone with information to contact An Garda Síochána.

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Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times