Irish Government sends team of officials in hunt for Journalist

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Dermot Ahern has announced that he will send a team of five officials to Iraq to secure the release of kidnapped journalist Mr Rory Carroll.

The team will be lead by Antoin Mac Unfraidh, the former Ambassador to Iraq and will liase with the Irish Government's contacts in Iraq.

Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs say they have been working through the night to try to gather information about Mr Carroll’s whereabouts.

Brian Cowen, the minister for Finance, acting on behalf of the Taoiseach said "I call on anybody who has any influence in that area to assist. We are trying to do all we can through our contacts".

The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern himself told BBC News that he hoped the kidnappers would bear in mind he was "an Irish person not involved in any way" with the Iraqi conflict. "We in fact granted him a passport in Irish, in our own language, in order to ensure that he would use this in such a way that to emphasise his Irishness in cases of difficulty."

Chairman of the Irish Anti-War coaliton said that he was "entirely innocent of any crime against the Iraqi people", adding: "No cause will be served by keeping him in captivity or harming him in any way."

Carrolls editor at the Guardian Alan Rusbridger issued a statement saying that "He is in Iraq as a professional journalist - and he's a very good, straight journalist whose only concern is to report fairly and truthfully about the country. We urge those holding him to release him swiftly - for the sake of his family and for the sake of anyone who believes the world needs to be kept fully informed about events in Iraq today."

All sides of Political debte in Ireland expressed condemnation of the abduction and support for the Governments efforts to secure the release of the 33 year old Journalist from The Guardian.