TAOISEACH Enda Kenny was embroiled in a row last night after warning Irish human rights activists against trying to break the blockade of Gaza.
The Irish-owned MV Saoirse is at an undisclosed Mediterranean port waiting to sail with other international aid vessels as part of Freedom Flotilla II.
Mr Kenny said the Government was strongly advising against the trip while Israel's naval forces continue to enforce the blockade.
But Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins hit out at the Taoiseach, first accusing him of cowardly capitulating to Israel, before describing him as "pathetically weak" in diplomatic efforts to allow humanitarian aid through.
"What you have just said is a disgusting and cowardly capitulation to the pressure of the Israeli government," Mr Higgins said. "It's a disgrace that an Irish prime minister, Taoiseach, would stand up and discourage humanitarians bringing critically needed supplies to a besieged people."
Mr Kenny urged the Israeli government not to take action that would cause harm to the activists. But he said: "The advice, while respecting the motives of the participants here, is not to travel to Gaza while this blockade is in force."
Raymond Deane, a spokesman for the Irish ship, said the vessel was at port in the Mediterranean but would not reveal the location for fear of sabotage. It is not known when the Irish ship will leave for the flotilla rendezvous point, where it will meet aid ships from around the world.
At least 20 Irish citizens, including former rugby international Trevor Hogan, and some politicians, will be on board the MV Saoirse.