Belfast Telegraph

Ryanair did not ban me, claims Northern Ireland lottery winner after she was removed from plane

By Leona O'Neill

Lottery winner Margaret Loughrey has denied being banned from all Ryanair flights after police were called to an incident on a plane landing in Malta before Christmas.

The 52-year-old Strabane woman, who won £27m in the Euromillions draw in 2013, denies police claims that she was "disruptive and aggressive" on a holiday flight from Belfast to the island.

She blamed the incident on low blood sugar levels which resulted in her being taken to hospital.

On December 22, the captain of a Ryanair flight called police before landing at Malta International Airport at Luqa to extract an "aggressive and disruptive" passenger.

Officers boarded the flight and took her into police custody before medical treatment was sought.

Ms Loughrey's personal assistant, who did not wish to be named, said that the incident was caused by glucose problems.

"Margaret wasn't arrested, actually her glucose was low and she had to be taken to hospital to get glucose," she said.

"She is not diabetic - as she doesn't go to doctors - but they think that she is diabetic because they had to give her glucose, her levels were so low. Margaret has passed out a few times with it before. She's fine now.

"She doesn't remember the police taking her off the plane. She remembers speaking to the police and them asking her if she was okay.

"She told them that she needed juice to try and bring her around and that her sugar levels were low. The police then took her to the hospital because her glucose was low.

"Margaret is not banned from Ryanair flights. She flew home with them over a week later.

"If she was banned, how was she able to fly home with them?"

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs and National Security at police headquarters in Floriana in Malta confirmed the incident.

"On the 22nd December 2017, the captain of a Ryanair flight from Belfast to Malta requested police assistance after a female passenger became disruptive and aggressive," she said.

"This woman, who turned out to be an Irish national, was taken into police custody and later referred for medical assistance. Please also note that the woman is no longer in custody."

A spokesperson for Ryanair said that Loughrey was now banned from all its future flights.

"The crew of this flight from Belfast to Malta (Dec 22) requested police assistance upon landing after a passenger became abusive towards our cabin crew members," they said.

"We will not tolerate unruly, disruptive or abusive behaviour at any time and the safety and comfort of our customers, crew and aircraft is our number one priority.

"This passenger has been banned from flying with Ryanair again and this is now a matter for local police."

Ms Loughrey was an unemployed divorcee when her lucky dip numbers came up in 2013, propelling her to the upper ranks of Northern Ireland's rich list.

Despite her good fortune, she has been plagued by troubles since the win.

Just two years after she hit the jackpot, she was detained under the Mental Health Act at Derry's Gransha Hospital after doctors said she posed a danger to herself or to others.

In September 2014, she became embroiled in a row with Sion Mills Cricket Club after locking them out of their grounds on the Herdman's Mill 60-acre site she had purchased.

Ms Loughrey also banned the local bowling club from using the green and in 2016 she banned local youth football team Sion Swifts FC - who had been using the pitches as a home ground for nearly three decades - from training on her land.

Belfast Telegraph

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