Wednesday 29 March 2017

Aid flotilla captives to be freed

Nobel peace prize winner Mairead Maguire standing beside the Cargo ship the MV Rachel Corrie
Nobel peace prize winner Mairead Maguire standing beside the Cargo ship the MV Rachel Corrie

Six Irish citizens detained after Israeli troops stormed an aid ship and nine civilians were killed will be released on Wednesday.

The Israeli government told Irish officials none of the six will be subject to deportation orders and flights will be arranged. They are expected back in Dublin throughout the day.

The six include leading activists Fintan Lane and Fiachra O Luain, Australian journalist Paul McGeough, two Irish-Libyan passport holders and a naturalised Pole.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said: "All detainees will be released. An Israeli government spokesman gave assurances they will not be forced to go through the deportation process."

Israel has faced huge international outcry over a commando-led operation to storm the aid flotilla on Monday. Troops stormed a Turkish ship in international waters 85 nautical miles from the Gaza coast and after coming up against resistance nine activists were shot dead.

Israeli authorities backed down from threatened legal action against some of those detained on board.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen warned Israel faced serious consequences if any Irish citizens were injured in the assault. It had been reported one Irish person was hurt.

On Tuesday the United Nations Security Council called for the immediate release of all ships and citizens detained by Israeli authorities.

Mr Cowen also called for one of the last boats in the Gaza mission, the MV Rachel Corrie, to be given safe passage through the military blockade of the territory.

It was sailing off the Libyan coast and not expected in the waters of Gaza, and the Israeli-imposed exclusion zone, for about another two days. Israeli officials insisted it would not be allowed entry to Gaza despite calls from the Irish Government for it to be given safe passage. On board the MV Rachel Corrie, which is travelling with two other vessels, were former Nobel peace prize winner Mairead Maguire and retired United Nations diplomat Denis Halliday.

Press Association

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