Irish police will co-operate fully with Essex murder investigation – deputy PM

Ireland’s deputy premier has said Irish police will co-operate fully with the investigation after 39 people were found dead in the back of a lorry in Essex.

Irish police are conducting follow-up inquiries in relation to the registrations and movements of the refrigerated container and the Irish-owned truck.

A 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland remains in custody after he was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of the murder of 39 people.

In a statement, Essex Police said the case is the largest murder investigation in its history and officers believe they are all Chinese nationals.

A statement said: “Of these, 38 are believed to be adults, and one is a young adult woman. We previously reported that she may have been a teenager. We have since confirmed that eight of the deceased are women and 31 are men and all are believed to be Chinese nationals.”

Essex Police said they have not speculated about the identity of the man who was arrested and will not do so.

They said: “We can confirm that three properties in Co Armagh have been searched in connection with our investigation.”

Irish police were working with Essex Police on Wednesday to establish the facts over whether or not the lorry came from the Irish Republic.

An Garda Siochana said they were “monitoring the developing investigation in the UK and will provide every assistance possible” to Essex Police and investigators.

Lorry container deaths: key locations
(PA Graphics)

Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney described the incident on Wednesday as a tragedy and said police in the Republic of Ireland will co-operate fully with the investigation.

Mr Coveney told the parliament in Dublin: “It is a reminder of just how ruthless and shocking people trafficking is right now.

“This is not simply something that we see in terms of trying to bring refugees from countries like Libya, across the Mediterranean. This is an issue that comes right into our own lives, into the UK.”

He said: “The investigation that’s under way at the moment involves An Garda Siochana (Irish police) also. The investigation taking place will have the absolute and full co-operation of An Garda Siochana.

“It is important to say that we do have a national action plan to prevent and combat human trafficking and An Garda Siochana has committed significant resources to investigating and prosecuting in the context of human trafficking and a specialised Garda unit.

“The human trafficking investigation and co-ordination unit has been established and is very much part of that human trafficking strategy, so I want to give that reassurance.”

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