Ireland in talks to take migrants from ship floating off Malta's coast since December

The Department of Justice is in talks with Maltese authorities and the European Commission to determine how many migrants Ireland will receive.

The news comes after Malta announced that all 49 migrants on board the Seawatch-3 and Albrecht Penck would be allowed to dock there.

File image of a migrant ship

The vessels had previously been refused to dock and had been floating in Maltese waters since December.

It would bring the number of migrants to be relocated from Malta to another member state to 224 people.

It is unknown exactly how many migrants Ireland would be receiving.

Executive Officer for the Department of Justice, Colm Daly, said: "The current position is that discussions are still ongoing with the Maltese authorities and the European Commission to see if we can provide assistance on this occasion in a spirit of solidarity and mutual cooperation."

Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced in a press conference that the European Commission has confirmed eight member states have agreed to accept all 49 migrants.

Mr Muscat also mentioned that Malta was not the nearest country or nearest safe port.

He said: "Malta is a very small country. It is in our nature to assist those in distress. But as Prime Minister, I cannot shirk the responsibility of safeguarding Malta's national security."

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