The Co Wexford pilgrimage group who were deported from Israel have been refused entry to Cyprus. Last night they were still looking for a port to drop anchor.
The 19 Irish citizens, along with six Romanians and a Colombian, were ordered out of Israel on Monday night after being branded as members of an extreme Christian group.
The Pilgrim House Foundation group from Castletown, Inch, Co Wexford, who were on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, were put on the cruise ship Nisos Kypro to Greece via Cyprus but were not allowed to disembark with the other passengers when the ship docked at Limassol yesterday.
The group, which includes children and mentally handicapped adults, was due to arrive in Rhodes, Greece, at AM this morning. Their final stop will be at Piraeus, Greece tomorrow morning.
The Irish Ambassador to Israel, Brendan Scannell, yesterday asked the Israeli authorities to reconsider their decision. ``It's a big foul-up. They didn't have their travel documents in order but there are lots of gray areas. It's up to the Israeli authorities whether they will allow them back or not,'' he said from Tel Aviv.
The Israelis say they feared the group were extremists who planned to commit suicide with the advent of the millennium. Yesterday, Cyprus police spokesperson, Glafcos Xenos, said they were members of a cult and were barred from Cyprus because "they refused to reply to questions posed to them by immigration officials."