Another Attempt Made To Rescue Irish in Libya

The Air Corps will attempt another evacuation of Irish citizens from Tripoli on Friday after a failed attempt on Wednesday night.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday evening that an Emergency Assistance Team is to be sent to Libya to assist in the departure of Irish citizens from the country.

A military deployed plane was turned away on Wednesday, unable to rescue stranded Irish nationals from the revolting country.

The rescue effort planned to fly into Tripoli on a commercial airline on Friday morning with visas supplied by the Libyan embassy in London to prepare the way for an Air Corps CASA aircraft.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, 31 Irish citizens were still in Tripoli last night, and another 12 were stranded in Benghazi. Six others are located in the country's desert. Those in Benghazi will leave by boat organised in partnership with other EU countries and those in the desert are expected to drive across the border or make their way to Tripoli.

The Air Corps Learjet spent four hours at Tripoli airport on Wednesday night before Libyan security officials forced the plane to depart. The aircraft returned to its dispatch in Valetta, Malta.

Defence Forces had been tasked with providing the evacuation of approximately 40 Irish citizens from Libya as the country continues to be gripped by national unrest.

The jet departed Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel at 8.40pm on Wednesday and an Air Corps CASA aircraft was also due to depart at 10.00pm.

Both Aircraft flew to Valletta, Malta from where they were on stand by to fly to Tripoli to conduct the evacuation operation if required. Only one plane was dispatched, but returned empty handed.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the Irish contingent was prevented from boarding by Libyan security.

According to reports this morning, there are about 70 Irish people that the department is in contact with in Libya, 54 of them are in the Tripoli area and the majority are at the airport.

Libyan protestors have been calling for Muammar Gaddafi to step down as Libyan leader for over a week despite infuriated and bizarre threats, including claims that "al-Qaeda is responsible for the uprising", from the dictator who has been in power for over 41 years.

Gaddafi is struggling to maintain his authority in the country, as major swathes of territory in the east of the vast North African country now appear to be under the control of pro-democracy protesters.

His power in the country has crumbled in recent days with the defection of high-profile officials, and major elements of his army, leading to the fall of the country's second largest city, Benghazi, falling to protestors.

However, Gaddafi's assertions he would fight until the "last man standing" are holding, as a Libyan army unit loyal to Gaddafi blasted the minaret of a mosque being occupied by protesters in Az-Zawiya, according to middle eastern news network, Al Jazzeera. Witnesses told the network that protesters had sustained heavy casualties in the attack, but exact figures on casualties or deaths remain unclear.

According to the Reuters news agency, pro-Gaddafi forces also attacked the town of Misrata, which was under the control of protesters. Similar clashes have also been reported in the cities of Sabha in the south, and Sabratha, near Tripoli, which is in the west.


Related Irish News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

24 February 2011
Plane Strands Irish In Tripoli
A military deployed plane has been turned away from Libya, unable to rescue stranded Irish nationals from the revolting country. The Air Corps Learjet spent four hours at Tripoli airport on Wednesday night before Libyan security officials forced the plane to depart.
07 December 2007
Kennedy And Ahern To Discuss Irish Immigrants
The status of undocumented Irish immigrants in the USA is to be the subject of discussions between the Irish Taoiseach and US Senator Ted Kennedy, this afternoon.
26 February 2024
Exploring The Rise Of The Latest Irish Online Casinos
Today, online casinos are more popular than ever. They have attracted players from all over the world and the country of Ireland is no exception.
21 February 2011
Labour Condemns 'Libyan Murders'
Labour's spokesperson on Foreign Affairs has spoken out against the Libyan Government's shooting of civilian protesters. At Monday lunchtime, it is reported that the central government building in the Libyan capital of Tripoli is on fire, while clashes continue the Green Square area of the city.
16 May 2008
'Large Irish Presence' At Cannes
The focal point for the Irish film industry at the Cannes Film Festival, the Irish Pavilion, has opened again for business this week, with over 200 of the leading lights of the Irish film industry flying out to the festival to promote and sell new Irish cinema.