23 November 2009

Fr Michael Sinnott's release: statement by Irish Foreign Minister

Iveagh House, Dublin, HQ of Irish Department of Foreign Affairs

I just found the press release below on the website of Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs. It was issued on 11 November. I know that Foreign Minister Martin was totally involved in trying to obtain the release of Father Sinnott. Until 18 October he was also dealing with the kidnapping of Irish GOAL volunteer, Sharon Commins, who had been kidnapped in July in Sudan. Thank God, she was safely released. It's not often that Irish citizens are kidnapped overseas and Mr Martin has to be commended for his commitment to the people he serves. It's surely a great strain on a person in his position to have to deal with two cases on two different continents. In the previous post Fr Pat O'Donoghue gave an example of his thoughtfulness.

I've highlighted some points in the press release.

Minister Micheál Martin (in photo below) expressed his delight at the safe release in the Philippines of Fr. Michael Sinnott

An Roinn Gnóthaí Eachtracha Preas Ráiteas
Department of Foreign Affairs Press Release

Preas Oifig, Teach Uibh Eachach, Faiche Stiabhna, Baile Átha Cliath 2
Press Office, Iveagh House, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.

Tel: 353 -1- 478 0822 Fax: 353 -1- 478 5942 / 475 7476
Idirlíon/Internet: http://www.dfa.ie/ Ríomh Phost/E-mail: press.office@dfa.ie

Minister Micheál Martin expressed his delight at the safe release in the Philippines of Fr. Michael Sinnott

Speaking today he said:

“I am personally delighted and relieved to relay the news that Fr. Michael Sinnott has been freed by his captives and handed over to the Philippine authorities.

The release of Fr. Michael represents the successful conclusion of a major diplomatic effort by the Irish and Philippine Governments. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Philippine Government and to the people of the Philippines for the excellent cooperation they extended to us in securing Fr. Michael’s release. Equally, our EU partners in Manila were a valuable support. I would also like to underline our deep appreciation to the United States Government for their assistance. The International Committee of the Red Cross also assisted.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines greets Fr Sinnott on his arrival in Manila.

I would especially like to thank Ambassador Richard O’Brien and his colleagues on the ground for their perseverance and determination in bringing about this happy outcome.

As in previous kidnaps, no ransom was paid by the Irish Government. To do so would only have jeopardised the vital work of aid workers and missionaries around the world - it would also place other Irish citizens in danger.

Fr. Michael Sinnott, a member of the Columban Fathers, displayed great forbearance in enduring more than a month in captivity, in spite of his age and difficult health. Fr. Michael has spent much his life working for the poorest of the poor in the Philippines, and I know that the ordinary people of the Philippines will be overjoyed to have him returned safe and well to his community.

I would like to pay my own personal tribute to the Sinnott family, who have behaved with great dignity during this ordeal. I would also like to thank the Columban fathers, both in Ireland and on the ground in the Philippines, with whom we have remained in constant contact during this difficult period. It has been a tough 32 days for everybody concerned, but particularly so for those who were waiting anxiously at the end of the phone for news of their loved one.

Fr. Michael, his family and the Columban fathers exemplify all that is great about Ireland – their sense of justice, their stoicism, their selflessness, and their innate dedication to helping the less fortunate among us. Working on this case over the past month has left me with an even deeper admiration for the work of our missionaries abroad. Ireland is immensely proud of their achievements”.

11 November 2009
Press Office
Statue of St Columban, Luxeuil, France

Though I'm posting the press release 12 days late it is fitting to do so as St Columban's Day draws to a close here in the Philippines.

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