A humanitarian rescue ship blocked at sea for nearly a week as European nations argued over its fate has arrived in Malta to disembark 234 migrants.
The ship picked up the migrants off the Libyan coast six days ago but has been waiting at sea for safe haven since then.
Ireland is among eight European nations who have agreed to house the migrants.
The government is committed to relocating 25 of those on board the ship.
The Tánaiste says he hopes Ireland's decision to take 25 migrants from a stranded rescue ship will encourage other EU countries to do the same.
Following consultation with @campaignforleo and @CharlieFlanagan I have committed Ireland to taking 25 migrants from @MV_LIFELINE to assist Malta and show solidarity and compassion with the needs of those aboard.— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) June 26, 2018
On the ship's approach, migrants crowded the deck wearing orange life jackets, many waving, as it entered the main port in Valletta under escort by a Malta patrol boat.
The commander of the ship operated by the German aid group Mission Lifeline sounded the boat's horn with two long blasts to salute the migrants after their shared journey, and raised a yellow flag to signal permission to authorities to board.
One by one, the migrants were escorted off by officials and medical personnel in white overalls and gloves.
A girl in pink shorts no more than five years old - one of five children on the ship - was cradled gingerly by an official. One man walked unsteadily, leaning on a helper, while another wearing shorts and a white polo shirt was barefoot and wrapped in a red blanket.
Pleased to work with @campaignforleo Taoiseach & Tanaiste @simoncoveney offering humanitarian assistance & support to 25 very vulnerable persons on MV Lifeline in Mediterranean. pic.twitter.com/UroWNfEwBw— Charlie Flanagan (@CharlieFlanagan) June 26, 2018
Earlier this month, Italy and Malta both refused port to French humanitarian ship the Aquarius, forcing some 630 migrants to travel an additional 900 miles to Spain.
Lifeline said that along with the worsening weather, some migrants were in fragile health.
- Digital Desk