Bigley gets Irish passport in bid to save his life

THE family of Ken Bigley were last night hopeful that his new Irish passport would copperfasten efforts to secure the 62-year-old engineer’s release.

Within hours of the Government’s decision to issue the passport, images of the document were flashed on Al Jazeera and other networks in the Middle East.

Speaking from Amsterdam last night as photos of the Irish passport were received in Iraq, Paul Bigley said he was ecstatic.

“I’m tired, but determined. This is just one of many moves in a foul game of chess,” he said.

Mr Bigley is entitled to Irish citizenship through his 86-year-old mother Elizabeth, who was born in Ticknock in Dublin.

Although a Government contribution was ruled out last night by Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern, Paul Bigley said a ransom was being sought.

Members of Mr Bigley’s family met Irish diplomats on Monday at the Hague before Mr Ahern signed off on the passport.

It is understood that while the British government did not object to the move, British officials did not believe an Irish passport would make a difference.

The move to secure a passport began 10 days ago, according to Paul Bigley.

Mr Ahern said it was Ken Bigley’s constitutional right to be an Irish citizen.

“If we can in any way, as a small neutral country, give humanitarian help in this way we said we would do this ... we are regarded as something of an honest broker,” he said.

Labour TD Michael D Higgins welcomed the development.

“I have spoken to Paul nearly every day and stressed from the outset Ken was entitled to an Irish passport.”

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