Justice Minister: 'Security should be tightened at Ireland's ports to combat human trafficking'

Security at each of Ireland’s ports should be tightened following the discovery of 16 migrants onboard a truck on a ferry bound for Rosslare.

Justice Minister: 'Security should be tightened at Ireland's ports to combat human trafficking'

Security at each of Ireland’s ports should be tightened following the discovery of 16 migrants onboard a truck on a ferry bound for Rosslare.

That is according to Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, who is due to meet with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and senior gardaí next week over how to prevent similar incidents.

“I believe it's important that we subject all of our ports to an ongoing review, particularly in light [of developments this week],” Minister Flanagan said.

Ireland also needs to work with other European ports, as well as with international agencies like Interpol, Minister Flanagan added.

“I’d like to see sufficient security in order to ensure that every effort is made to combat the scourge of human trafficking, which is an appalling crime,” he told RTÉ. “It needs to be differentiated from smuggling.”

It emerged this week that the Department of Justice is planning to house nearly 5,500 asylum seekers in new direct provision centres in eight regions around the country.

A tender process is underway, Minister Flanagan confirmed. "I'm anxious to ensure that when centres are selected, we engage fully with local communities in a way that ensures a welcome."

As previously reported by the Irish Examiner, almost 1,000 asylum seekers have spent four years or more in the system waiting for applications to be processed.

While the migrants onboard the Stena Horizon were found to be in good health albeit "shocked at the traumatic situation", the outcome could have been a tragedy.

That's according to Ger Carthy, an independent Wexford councillor and a paramedic who attended the scene in Rosslare on Thursday.

Had the boat been diverted through bad weather, and the weather was quite bad (on Thursday), it could have been hours and hours on end and who knows you could have been looking at an Essex situation here on the shores of Rosslare.

With Brexit remaining "an unknown", we don't know if this will be a once off, he added. "Let's hope that this isn’t a common thing because we certainly don’t want to lose lives in boats arriving on our shores," he told RTÉ.

A garda investigation into the circumstances of the discovery on board the STENA Horizon Ferry sailing from Cherbourg, France to Rosslare Europort is continuing.

The 16 males, 14 adults and two juveniles who are believed to be of Kurdish origin, were found in a climate controlled trailer unit on-board a truck owned by an Irish-based company. Gardaí confirmed that its owners and its driver are co-operating fully with the ongoing investigation. The 14 men have sought international protection and will now be processed by the International Protection Office (IPO). The two juveniles are currently in the care of TUSLA.

Meanwhile, a man from Northern Ireland has been arrested by police investigating the deaths of 39 migrants whose bodies were found in a refrigerated lorry container in Essex. The man, 23, was held on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. He was arrested by Thames Valley Police on the M40, in Buckinghamshire in the early hours of Friday morning.

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