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Dublin: 9 °C Saturday 16 February, 2019
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Ireland agrees to take in 25 migrants from stranded Lifeline ship

The Lifeline boat has 234 migrants on board and has been refused permission to dock in a number of countries.

File photo of a ship containing migrants intercepted offshore near Libya.
File photo of a ship containing migrants intercepted offshore near Libya.
Image: Libyan Coast Guard via AP

THE IRISH GOVERNMENT has today agreed that Ireland will offer refuge to about 25 migrants who are currently on a boat stranded 30km off the coast of Malta.

The Lifeline boat has 234 migrants on board and has been refused permission to dock in a number of countries.

The Taoiseach and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan have been in touch with the Tánaiste – who is in Luxembourg today – regarding the matter, who in turn has been liaising with his Maltese counterpart.

Agreement has been reached with Malta that Ireland will be one of a number of EU countries to take the migrants once the Lifeline boat docks at Malta. The boat is expected to dock in Malta in the next 48 hours.

The Lifeline has been stranded for days in the Mediterranean without a port to dock at after picking up the migrants in distress off the Libyan coast last week.

French president Emmanuel Macron said earlier that France will be one of six EU countries to take in the 233 migrants aboard the NGO boat.

The French president criticised the German NGO Mission Lifeline saying it had defied “all the rules” by coming to the migrants’ rescue when the Libyan coastguard was already intervening.

“We cannot permanently accept this situation,” he warned, adding “in the end we are playing into the hands of smugglers by reducing the risks of the journey”.

The Maltese government has agreed to take in the Lifeline on condition that an agreement to distribute the migrants among EU member countries was reached.

Portugal, France and Italy are among the countries involved in the negotiations.

With reporting from Christina Finn and © – AFP, 2018

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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