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'They are being treated with compassion': Gardaí say 16 men on Irish ferry 'fortunate' to be found

The men are aged from 20 to 40 and are said to be in good health.

Emergency personnel at Rosslare Europort in Co Wexford, board the Stena Line ferry after 16 people were discovered in a sealed trailer on the ship sailing from France.
Emergency personnel at Rosslare Europort in Co Wexford, board the Stena Line ferry after 16 people were discovered in a sealed trailer on the ship sailing from France.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated Nov 21st 2019, 7:50 PM

GARDAÍ THIS EVENING have confirmed that all 16 people found in a container are in good health and were “fortunate” to be discovered by staff. 

Supertintendent Jim Doyle told the press that the men are are in good health and are currently being processed under Irish immigration law. 

He also confirmed that all 16 men are from the Middle East. The men are aged from 20 to 40 and are said to be in good health. 

The lorry in which the men were found is owned by an Irish company and was being driven at the time by an Irish driver. No arrests have been made.

Earlier today, gardai and emergency services boarded the ferry at Rosslare Port.

Two ambulances and several doctors’ cars and police cars drove onto the ship’s vehicle deck shortly after it docked shortly after 3pm.

A large police and Immigration Bureau presence was visible around the port.

The container was on board a Stena Line ferry which departed from Cherbourg, France last night and arrived in Rosslare just after 3pm this afternoon. 

Ian Hampton, Stena Line’s chief people and communications officer, confirmed an employee discovered the people during a routine inspection.

He said: “During the Stena Horizon’s 9pm sailing from Cherbourg, France, to Rosslare in the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday November 20, one of our employees during a routine inspection discovered 16 people in a sealed trailer on the vehicle deck.

“All the individuals are reported to be in good health and have been moved to a private passenger lounge on the ship where their wellbeing is the focus of our employees.

“Stena Line has alerted security and immigration officials in Rosslare so as the necessary arrangements can be made for the group on the vessel’s arrival in Rosslare.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this afternoon said that the State’s initial response will be to make sure that the health of those aboard the ferry is good. 

In a statement this afternoon, gardaí said they were investigating “potential breaches of immigration legislation”.

A spokesman said: “At approximately 09:45am today, the captain of the ferry alerted gardaí that a number of people had been discovered in the trailer of an articulated tractor unit on the vehicle deck.

“All the individuals appear in good health and are currently receiving medical assessments on arrival at Rosslare Port. Garda Immigration Officers attached to Wexford Garda Station, supported by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) will carry out an assessment on the immigration status of all the persons.”

Gardaí added that the driver and the owners of the articulated vehicle are assisting with the investigation.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan this evening issued a statement which stated he was “concerned” by the this morning’s news. 

He said: “I was extremely concerned to learn of another incident of people being found in a sealed lorry container, on this occasion on board a ferry.

“There is an active garda investigation underway and I would appeal to anyone with any information on these nefarious activities to come forward.  I welcome the statement issued by An Garda Síochána earlier today.

“The persons found in the lorry container are now being cared for by State services.  As part of that care, they will receive initial medical assessments.”

With reporting by Garreth MacNamee and PA

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