An Irish Aer Corps aircraft landed in Tripoli today at 4.50 pm to pick up Irish nationals, but was prevented from doing so by Libyan security. It remained on the ground four hours, and was afterwards obliged to return to Malta, according to an e-mail from Department of Foreign Affairs sources. They say efforts will resume tomorrow, and attempts also are underway to have Irish nationals accommodated on other EU flights endeavouring to leave from Tripoli. (This is a strangely different story than in the Irish Times coverage, which curiously leaves out Libyan security and says only there were ‘difficulties at Tripoli airport’.)
For its part, the UK Foreign Office needed two attempts to evacuate 300 British nationals, and was forced to borrow an aircraft from BP which promptly broke down on the Gatwick runway, leading to no little domestic criticism.
On other fronts bridging Ireland and Libya, fully 23.3 per cent of last year’s Irish crude oil imports came from Libya. (These are now halted.) We’ve also since 2001 deported 306 of 404 asylum seekers from Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. But we oughtn’t forget what unites Ireland and Libya: an equally rubbish bond status. On a rather more historical note, it’s recently come to light in the archives that in 1973 Dublin sat quiet on trade links between Aer Lingus and the government-owned Libyan Airlines, fully briefed Libya was donating Semtex and AK-47 rifles to the Provisional IRA, but willing to jeopardise neither these Libyan trade ties nor relations with the UK. (The government did, though, dispatch several ships of the Irish Naval Service to interdict Libyan arms imports.)
On a very different note, Libyan immigrant Hussein Hamed is standing as an independent in Dublin South. His stepbrother, Abdul Kareem Hamed, was killed Sunday in protests in Benghazi. I’m sure words can’t express how hideously sorry all of Mr Hamed’s new countrymen are for him and his family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam; البقية في حياتك.