Irish link to Iraq hostage
Irish link to Iraq hostage

The brother of the British hostage facing execution in Iraq believes the Irish Government could be the “catalyst” to secure his release.

Kenneth Bigley has an Irish mother and is entitled to an Irish passport.

Labour’s Michael D Higgins has offered to mediate in the negotiations with his captors, who have already beheaded two Americans held with Mr Bigley.

Paul Bigley, Mr Bigley’s brother, has pointed to case of Belfast man Brian Keenan, held for years in Beirut, was ultimately released after interventions by Dublin’s Department of Foreign Affairs.

He told Irish radio: “He’s from Irish descent and it’s a neutral government.

“We need to get a dialogue going and it needs to come from Dublin. There are 52 cards in a packs of cards and Downing Street haven’t got any cards to play anymore,” Mr Bigley said.

“The fact that Ken has Irish roots . . . and I believe a journalist was released some months ago . . . and given Mr [Michael D.] Higgins’s experience in previous encounters, I think we are in good hands in Dublin,” he said.

Mr Bigley’s mother, Elizabeth (86), was briefly hospitalised last night after breaking down in tears during a televised appeal for mercy last night. Mrs Bigley lives in Liverpool but is originally from Ticknock, south Co Dublin.

Mr Higgins said public interest in Ireland over Mr Bigley’s fate had grown strongly in the past few days. Mr Higgins said he was willing to negotiate and travel to Iraq on behalf of Mr Bigley but that “we have to wait and see how things are shaping up.”

Mr Higgins, who was interviewed on Al-Jazeera television last night, said he was contacted yesterday by Mr Paul Bigley to see if he could help.

Speaking on Morning Ireland Mr Higgins called the US and British refusal to negotiate with the group holding Mr Bigley “contradictary and appalling”.

Paul Bigley said today he believed Mr Higgins’s interview on Al-Jazeera provided a stay of execution for his brother. “I know the people who have got Ken have read this and this is why we have a stay of execution. We’ve got to get this thing moving.”

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