Two juveniles among migrants found on Rosslare bound ferry

The 16 people found in a trailer on a ferry bound for Rosslare included two juveniles, Labour party leader Brendan Howlin has said. They have now been taken into the care of the HSE while the 14 adults have been transferred to a reception centre.

There is a working assumption that the people are Kurds, but it is uncertain if they are Iraqi or Iranian Kurds, Mr Howlin told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show. Tusla, the child and family agency, had not responded to a request for comment on whether it was involved in the case on Friday morning.

The State’s immigration authorities are currently processing the people found in the back of the truck.

If the individuals apply for international protection status, they will be offered accommodation. Those who accept will either be put into the direct provision system, or possibly housed in an emergency direct provision centre.

A source at the French Police Aux Frontieres (border police), known by the acronym PAF, said the 16 will remain in Ireland if they request asylum there. “If they ask for asylum, they are protected by European conventions,” he said

Mr Howlin, who is TD for Wexford, called for tighter scrutiny on all fronts and said there is a need to ensure that proper checks are carried out in ports and that they are “more thorough and vigorous.”

He added that Thursday’s incident brought back memories of the tragedy in Drinagh, Co Wexford in 2001 when the bodies of eight people, including four children, were found in a trailer.

The possibility of a tragedy remains and could happen at any time, he said.

On the same programme, policy manager for Northern Ireland with the UK Road Haulage Association John Martin, said that the discovery of the 16 on board the ferry highlighted the need for greater checks at ports.

There is understood to be growing concern amongst freight companies at the increasing frequency of people being discovered in trucks. One industry source told The Irish Times: “It’s an emerging trend and changes will have to be made in terms of checks.” Freight trade sources said they were also concerned about the growing use of refrigerated trucks by stowaway migrants.

The truck and trailer, which are owned by a company in the southeast, were photographed and examined by gardai last night. The freight company, and the driver, a man in his 50s, were said to be assisting with inquiries.

The scene at Rosslare Europort in Co Wexford, after 16 people were found alive in the back of a truck on ferry sailing from France.

Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

The incident reinforced the concern that the Republic and Northern Ireland could become a backdoor into the UK, Mr Martin said. It was unfair that at present the onus is on operators and drivers to thwart illegal immigrants. Many had to purchase expensive high tech security measures.

The United Kingdom’s first independent anti-slavery commissioner Kevin Hyland, called for intervention to happen “way back upstream”.

Migrants stow away on vessels bound for Ireland or the UK on average every week or two, though 16 is an unusually high number, the source at the PAF said.

That large a contingent would occur perhaps once every four months.

Two Albanians who were caught on a vessel bound for the UK at the beginning of the week arrived back in Cherbourg on Wednesday.

“We consider these people victims,” said the source at the PAF. “There is always an administrative investigation, to know who they are, how they came to France, if they are really the nationality they say they are, whether they were exploited by a trafficking network.”

Officials at the PAF and the prefecture said all information concerning security measures at the port in Cherbourg is secret.

The official at the Channel prefecture said most of the migrants caught on vessels bound for Ireland or the UK are Albanian, Afghan, Iraqi or Kurdish.

Officials in Cherbourg learned of the 16 migrants discovered on the ferry to Rosslare via email.

Garda headquarters in Dublin communicates directly with the Direction Centrale de la Police aux Frontieres in Rennes and the information goes down the line to Cherbourg.

“There is a lot of communication between Irish and French authorities,” the official at the PAF said. “Each country they pass through shares a degree of responsibility.”

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