Department defends Libyan evacuation


The Department of Foreign Affairs has responded to criticism of its response to the situation in Libya saying it was happy that every Irish national that was seeking to leave the country was able to do so safely.

Five employees from Mercury Engineering arrived at Dublin airport last night from Libya. They had been working on two airfields in the desert in the southeast.

Contracts manager Conor Molloy from Athlone said the group had been trying to leave Libya for eight days and he was critical of the help from the Irish and British authorities. The information they received was “diabolical”, he said.

“They were telling people . . . book a flight online and get out but it was too late for that,” he said.

“They were advising people to go to Tripoli when Benghazi was safe ... I mean the Chinese evacuated 10,000 people. The Turks evacuated 3,000 people.

“The British and Irish struggled to evacuate 300 people.”

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said it had done everything it could to assist Irish nationals who wanted to leave the country.

“Over 115 Irish nationals were assisted by the Department since the unrest began,” he said.

“Ireland does not have an embassy or a consular service in Libya. We do not have the resources which larger countries have. Every resource which this Department could apply to assisting Irish nationals was carried out. Three Government jets were involved. It was a fast-changing and difficult situation and communications were difficult. The situation was not under our control.”