Hope has been voiced that a Northern Irish missionary who was caught up in an African kidnapping will recover and be undeterred from further good works in the future.
The mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens was speaking on Tuesday after it emerged that Alanna Carson, whose family hail from the Ballymoney area of north Co Antrim, had returned home safely after the ordeal – which cost the life of one of her colleagues.
The former Dalriada Grammar pupil, who is a member of Ballyclabber Reformed Presbyterian Church to the east of Coleraine, was one of four Christian charity workers who were abducted from their accommodation in Delta State in Nigeria in the early hours of October 13.
One of them, Ian Squire, died three weeks into his kidnap, in circumstances which are not clear. No-one connected with the Carson family wished to speak.
Causeway coast mayor, the UUP’s Joan Baird, said: “When someone offers their service so selflessly, it’s so disappointing that this has happened, and I’m sure it must’ve been a horrendous experience – especially losing one of her team.
“Certainly she’s very welcome home, and I’m sure it’ll take time to recover from the trauma of this, but I hope that she’ll be able to continue in her life with the good works she started out on.”
She extended her sympathies to the family, friends and colleague of the man who lost his life “doing such wonderful work in such a really impoverished part of he world”.
She added: “I’m so glad she’s got back safely. She sounds like the type of person who’s not going to let this get to her [and] she’s going to go on and do other good work for people, whether it’s at home or abroad.”
TUV councillor Sharon McKillop: “The return of Alanna Carson to Northern Ireland will, I am sure, come as a great relief to her family and friends. Doubtless the traumatic events she experienced have left a mark and I am sure that she will be in the thoughts of many at this time. The killing of one of her colleagues brings home the dangerous nature of the work she was involved in.”
She had worked at Specsavers in Fife, and was reportedly in Nigeria with the organisation New Foundations.
It officially describes its work as “training, immunisation , surgical and public health initiatives in the region of the Niger Delta... underpinned through a faith in Jesus Christ”.
Other details about the freed hostages, such as Alanna’s age and when exactly they returned home to the UK, were not provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.