Irish activists to be deported from Israel after MV Saoirse detained
Published 05/11/2011 | 10:29
Fourteen Irish people are to be deported from Israel after being detained by Israeli military forces.
The 14 were aboard the MV Saoirse, one of two vessels intercepted by the Israeli navy yesterday as they were attempting to break the naval blockade of Gaza.
The boats had 27 people aboard from seven countries and were part of the Freedom Wave humanitarian mission to deliver medical supplies.
The vessels were towed to the Port of Ashdod and those aboard were detained overnight.
The Irish activists include Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy, former Fianna Fail TD Chris Andrews, artist Felim Egan, former Ireland rugby player Trevor Hogan, and three councillors.
The Irish Ship to Gaza campaign said that a text message was received from Mr Hogan, calling for the Irish Government to intervene.
In a statement, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said the priority was the safety and welfare of the detainees and that the Irish Embassy in Tel Aviv was providing consular assistance.
Mr Gilmore said: "My initial reaction is one of relief that there has been no violence and that all the Irish nationals aboard the MV Saoirse are safe and well following this ordeal.
''My views and those of the Government on the Gaza blockade are well known.
''We do not agree with it, we regard it as contrary to international humanitarian law in its impact on the civilian population of Gaza, and we have repeatedly urged Israel to end a policy which is unjust, counter-productive and amounts to collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians.''