LE Róisín sets off from Cork on migrant rescue mission

Simon Coveney says Irish naval vessel crew will engage in ‘harrowing’ work at sea

The LE Róisín, which left Haulbowline to take part in naval patrols on the Mediterranean. “This is not easy work, bringing women and children and men on board who have been through horrific situations,” said the Minister.

The LE Róisín, which left Haulbowline to take part in naval patrols on the Mediterranean. “This is not easy work, bringing women and children and men on board who have been through horrific situations,” said the Minister.

 

Fifty-seven Irish sailors will have to engage in “harrowing work” when they reach the Mediterranean on the LE Róisín to assist in migrant search-and-rescue operations, Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said.

Speaking on the quayside in Haulbowline, Co Cork, yesterday before the ship departed, Mr Coveney said the vessel was not going to solve the migrant crisis but would go some way towards alleviating the suffering of people in search of a better life.

The LE Róisín will be involved in naval patrols, taking people seeking to reach Europe from the Middle East and North Africa to shore from their boats and also picking up the bodies of those who do not survive the journey.

“This is not easy work, bringing women and children and men on board who have been through horrific situations,” Mr Coveney said. “Unfortunately on some of the previous rotations bringing bodies on board [was part of the job] as well. It will certainly help in a very practical way.”

Turkey deal

Under the deal, migrants arriving in Greece are being sent back to Turkey and EU countries are taking in up to 72,000 migrants from Turkey under a voluntary resettlement plan. The agreement includes a commitment to reopen part of Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU, which deals with budgetary and financial matters.

“I am very concerned about that [deal]. I am not comfortable with the arrangement we have in place with Turkey. This is really a bandage rather than a permanent solution to try and slow down this extraordinary mass movement of people,” he said.

“There are 164,000 people who have tried to cross the Mediterranean already this year from January to the end of March . . . We are trying to stem that flow and get some management on it. But the EU should not be outsourcing this problem to Turkey.”

Navigator

Róisín

“We are preparing for the best and expecting the worst. I was there last year. Last year it was different for me as I was with the Italians but now I am at the coalface as a navigator. ”

Lieut McKenna’s wife, Grace Byrne, said it was “bittersweet” seeing her husband go away given they were only married in February. “It is sad to see him go but it’s an amazing opportunity,” she said.

The LE Róisín will have two unusual passengers on board – two loggerhead turtles who will be released into the warmer Mediterranean waters.

“We are taking two turtles down,” said Lieut Cmdr Ultan Finnegan. “One that was found off Ireland and one found off the UK.”