LÉ Róisín to go on rescue duty in Mediterranean

Simon Coveney says ship will be despatched for humanitarian rescue ‘within next month’

Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney secured Government approval to send LÉ Róisín on humanitarian rescue duty in the southern Mediterranean. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney secured Government approval to send LÉ Róisín on humanitarian rescue duty in the southern Mediterranean. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

The Naval Service is preparing to send its patrol ship LÉ Róisín on humanitarian rescue duty in the southern Mediterranean, following Government approval secured by Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney.

Mr Coveney said that the ship would be despatched “within the next month”, subject to “finalisation of operational arrangements”.

More than 700 migrants and refugees have died already this year alone attempting to cross into Europe via the Mediterranean, according to the International Organisation for Migration. This is a 50 per cent increase on the same time period last year, when a total of some 3,770 migrants, including young children, lost their lives on what the organisation describes as the “deadliest” transit routes of all.

The Naval Service deployment is part of a bilateral agreement with Italy, focused on humanitarian rescue.

The move has been welcomed by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, which said it was “equally important that political leadership is provided to ensure Ireland meets its other refugee commitments in full – including the promise to resettle 4,000 people by the end of next year”.

Mr Coveney said that any change in Ireland’s participation, such as through the EU Navfor Med military operation to stop traffickers, would require a debate in the Dáil as part of “triple lock” approval by the UN, EU and Government, and would therefore be a matter for a new administration.

Fourth ship

The LÉ Róisín with 60 crew on board will be the fourth Naval Service patrol ship to engage in rescue in the Mediterranean since May of last year. It will be one of three sent this year on 12-week rotation, Mr Coveney said.

Last year, some 8,592 migrants and refugees were rescued by the LÉ Eithne, LÉ Niamh and LÉ Samuel Beckett. Italy has rescued about 250,000 migrants at sea in the past three years, with 20,000 this year alone, and some 3,000 in the past week,according to Italian ambassador to Ireland Giovanni Adorni Braccesi Chiassi. He noted that numbers attempting to leave Libya were rising in spite of efforts to confiscate smugglers’ vessels.

The EU-Turkey operation to return migrants from Greece to Turkey is expected to increase pressure on the southern Mediterranean route.

“The despatch of an Irish naval vessel represents a tangible and valuable Irish national contribution to assisting with the continuing migration crisis in the Mediterranean,” Mr Coveney said.

Statutory authority for the despatch for humanitarian work has been approved under Section 3 (1) (f) of the Defence (Amendment) Act 2006.