6 October 2017
By Bryan Smyth
Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe T.D., was in the Naval Base, Haulbowline today to welcome home the crew of L.É William Butler Yeats who have been deployed on a humanitarian search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean since July 2017. This was the second time the L.É William Butler Yeats was deployed on this humanitarian mission. Irish participation in the humanitarian mission since 2015 has resulted in the rescue of over 17,500 people.
Minister Kehoe said “I am delighted to welcome home L.É William Butler Yeats and their crew from their service in the Mediterranean under the leadership of Lieutenant Commander Eric Timon and I wish to thank them for their contribution to a mission which was at times, very challenging.”
Minister Kehoe also met with Lieutenant Commander Stewart Armstrong and the crew of L.É. Niamh before their departure for the Mediterranean to take part in Operation Sophia. Operation Sophia is designed to disrupt the people smuggling operations in the Mediterranean and to enforce the arms embargo on Libya and is one element of a comprehensive approach, being undertaken by the European Union, to address the migration crisis in the South Central Mediterranean.
Ireland’s commitment in the Mediterranean to date has been to undertake humanitarian search and rescue missions on a bilateral basis with the Italian authorities. While Operation Sophia focusses on security and interception operations, L.É. Niamh will also be available to respond to requests from the relevant authorities to assist with humanitarian search and rescue.
The Minister wished the crew of L.É. Niamh “a safe and successful mission” and noted that “we will now form part of a broad multilateral operation in which 25 other Member States are participating. Ireland will be making a contribution to addressing some of the root causes of migration and human trafficking. Ireland’s humanitarian efforts to date will be strengthened by working as part of this multilateral approach.”