LÉ Niamh rescues at least 100 people from Mediterranean

Irish patrol ship received emergency call in Mediterranean at 9.50am on Saturday

The Naval Service patrol ship LÉ Niamh is engaging in the rescue of more than 100 refugees and migrants aboard a number of boats north of Libya after receiving an emergency call this morning.

The rescue operation, which is being carried out in coordination with the SeaWatch NGO vessel, began at 9.50am (Irish time) on Saturday in the Mediterranean.

The LÉ Niamh has already taken about 100 people from the stranded vessel on board the Irish patrol ship and is now tasked with helping a second boat, according to a spokesman for the Irish Defence Forces. The SeaWatch NGO is assisting a third boat in the area.

A spokesman for the Naval Press Office confirmed the rescue operation was taking place some 36 nautical miles north of the Libyan capital city of Tripoli.


The rescue is expected to take several hours.

The Irish patrol ship had been on patrol in the Mediterranean since early on Friday morning when it received the emergency call on Saturday.

The Irish Naval Service announced this week it would extend its involvement in humanitarian search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean.

Ireland's involvement in the European Union's Triton search and rescue initiative began last May with the deployment of the LÉ Eithne which was replaced by the LÉ Niamh in July.

Irish patrol ships LÉ Niamh and LÉ Eithne have rescued 6,391 refugees and migrants from the Mediterranean since the initiative began in the spring.

Under the new plans, the LÉ Samuel Beckett will take over operations in the Mediterranean from the end of September, when the LÉ Niamh was due to finish its mission, until November 30th.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil has written to the Taoiseach urging him to recall the Dáil next week to discuss the refugee and migrant crisis..

Speaking after discussing the crisis with Fianna Fáil’s European party group, ALDE, in Brussels, the party’s spokesman on European Affairs Timmy Dooleysaid: “It is a national disgrace that the parliament would remain silent on Ireland’s response to the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.

"It's clear we need much more joined-up action at EU level and Ireland needs to have an important national discussion on the scale of the challenges presented by this crisis and what we can do. That discussion should be held in a special Dáil session next week. I hope the Taoiseach will understand the need for this and act accordingly," he added.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast