A major security alert was triggered at the airport just after 7pm on Tuesday when the 25-year Libyan national became upset after approaching a ticket desk in the departures area enquiring about flights to Islam’s holy city, Mecca.
Ticket desk staff alerted airport police, who responded, but gardaí were alerted when the man became increasingly agitated and delirious, began rocking back and forth, and then refused to engage with airport security.
As part of a routine response to such airport security situations, the airport forecourt area was shut down, and gardaí from Togher, backed by armed members of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) rushed to the scene.
They arrested the man and took him to the Bridewell Garda Station where he was assessed by a doctor.
He was later transferred to Cork University Hospital where he was receiving specialist psychiatric medical attention yesterday.
The Irish Examinerhas learnt that the young man was in Ireland on a government-sponsored programme for English language training followed by aviation training.
He had applied for a place on Cork Airport-based Atlantic Flight Training Academy’s (AFTA) cadet training programme but was unsuccessful. His visa expired this month and he was due to return to London where his family live.
A spokesman for AFTA confirmed that the man was not part of its contract to train Turkish Airline pilots — a contract deal which was announced on Monday.
Gardaí and airport management defended their handling of the security alert and said it is routine in such situations to close key areas of the facility, and for ERU officers to attend.