THE Irish Government would take a very serious view if it turned out an Irish aid boat bound for Gaza was sabotaged, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said yesterday as seven Irish activists returned home.
As activists accused Israel of damaging the propeller of the vessel in a Turkish port, the Foreign Affairs Minister said he was "concerned" about reports that the ship may have been sabotaged.
Mr Gilmore said there would have to be an investigation by the Turkish authorities and the Irish Government would take a very serious view if it turned out that it had been sabotaged.
The Irish Ship to Gaza (ISG) campaign said they noticed problems with the propeller of the MV Saoirse, while it was berthed in Gocek this week.
The boat was brought to a local shipyard where the extent of the damage was immediately visible.
The group claims it was attacked "by saboteurs who cut, gouged or filed a piece off the shaft" causing up to €15,000 damage.
The Saoirse was one of 10 ships aiming to break through the sea blockade and bring humanitarian aid to Palestinians.
It has now suspended its mission, and seven of its 20 crew flew home last night.
It is understood 10 others are attempting to secure passage on board other ships to continue the mission.
The Israeli embassy in Dublin says it had no information on the incident.
The Irish boat is the second aid vessel that has had a propeller damaged while moored in a Mediterranean port this week.
On Tuesday, similar allegations of sabotage were made by activists on the Swedish-owned Juliano, docked in Piraeus in Greece.
The Israeli military is under orders to prevent an international convoy of ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists and aid from reaching Gaza.
Last year, nine activists on a Turkish vessel, the Mavi Marmara, were killed in an Israeli raid on an aid flotilla.
Trevor Hogan (31), from Tipperary, who was capped four times before a knee injury ended his professional rugby career last year, was one of the Irish people on board the MV Saoirse.
He said that he intends to complete the mission on another vessel.