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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Baby delivery 'all in a day's work' for hero medic Conor

Leading Seaman Darren Buckley is welcomed home by daughter Bella Nora Lee (4)
Leading Seaman Darren Buckley is welcomed home by daughter Bella Nora Lee (4)
Army medic Cpl Conor Kilbride

A Defence Forces medic who calmly delivered the first child ever born on an Irish naval vessel modestly insisted it was "all in a day's work" during the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

Army medic Cpl Conor Kilbride, from Swords, Dublin, delivered baby Destiny to a north Africa migrant mother, managing the first birth of his medical career.

Assisted by Naval Service medic Paul O'Connell, the pair were among the 59-strong crew of the patrol vessel LE Niamh, which arrived back to a hero's welcome at Haulbowline Naval Base in Cork Harbour after a challen- ging three-month deployment in the Mediterranean.

The crew rescued more than 4,100 migrants and recovered 39 bodies in one of the most difficult missions ever undertaken by the Naval Service.

Defence Forces chief of staff, Vice-Admiral Mark Mellet, said their families had every right to be deeply proud of what the crew had achieved.

"In the course of doing their job they have seen things that no one should have to witness," he added.

The rescue operations were so intense that special social services experts were flown to Malta and Italy to help the crew with counselling.

Almost 500 rela- tives, friends and colleagues thronged the dockside yesterday as the crew - led by Lt Cmdr Daniel Wall - disembarked to cheers and music from the Southern Brigade band.

Cpl Kilbride admitted he was thrilled to be reunited with his girlfriend, Melissa Hickey, and his parents, John and Bernie.

He will now try to track down any details of baby Destiny and her mother.

"The last I heard was when they were successfully disembarked in Sicily," he said.

"But, obviously, I would love to know how they're getting on and where they are."

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