Irish Republican News · June 27, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Irish ship joins Gaza mission

The Dublin government has been urged to ask the Israeli authorities to allow an Irish ship joining an international flotilla to be allowed access to the port of Gaza.

National co-ordinator of the ‘Irish Ship to Gaza’ campaign Fintan Lane said yesterday that Israel had no legal or moral right to stop the flotilla, which is carrying aid to the blockaded Gaza strip.

“Threats of violence, we believe, should be condemned by all right-thinking people and certainly by governments believing in the rule of law,” Mr Lane said.

Twenty-five passengers and crew sailed on the Irish-owned MV Saoirse from its point of departure in the Mediterranean on Saturday and is to join the flotilla today [Monday].

Gaza has been described as “a densely packed open-air prison camp” with over 40% unemployment and massive poverty. The flotilla aims to bring necessary humanitarian aid, such as medicine, to the people of Gaza.

A similar convoy of ships was attempting to reach Gaza last year when Israeli forces massacred 9 activists aboard one of the ships, the Mavi Marmara.

Israeli leaders have said they will block the latest aid bid “while exercising restraint to avoid injuries”.

Ten ships, including Ireland’s MV Saoirse, plan to set sail for Gaza Tuesday. Mr Lane said he hoped the Israelis would stand back and reflect on what happened last year.

Mr Lane, who is also a member the flotilla’s international steering committee, said they would not allow the Israelis board any ships.

“We have taken a very definite decision that Israeli troops are not welcome on our ships, largely because they killed our colleagues last year, but also because they have no legal right to search the ships in international waters under those conditions,” he added.

“We will have the ships searched at the ports of departure by the local authorities.”

The passengers and crew of the MV Saoirse will include former Fianna Fail TD Chris Andrews, Dublin Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy, Derry Sinn Fein councillor Gerry Mac Lochlainn, former international rugby player Trevor Hogan, trade union official Mags O’Brien and skipper Shane Dillon.

Sinn Fein Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Padraig MacLochlainn has sent his best wishes to the crew of the ship, which he said should be allowed bring aid to the besieged Palestinian people of Gaza.

“I want to congratulate the organisers of this trip and wish them the best of luck. It is an extremely brave thing to do given the murderous actions of Israeli forces when they boarded the Mavi Marmara last year when the first flotilla attempted to enter Gaza,” he said.

“This second flotilla should be allowed safe travel and the Government here should be speaking to the Israeli authorities to ensure that they get it.

“Furthermore, the Government should be doing all in its power to end the siege of Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinian people there including calling for an end to the preferential trade agreement between the EU and Israel until such time as the siege is lifted.”

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© 2011 Irish Republican News