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Monday 23 April 2018

Remaining detainees freed and heading for home

Shane Hickey

THE remaining Irish passport-holders detained following the Gaza flotilla controversy were en route out of Israel last night along with hundreds of foreign activists.

Four set off for Istanbul, where they were met by an official from the Irish Embassy there, while another was brought to Ankara for medical treatment. They were expected to fly to Ireland this morning.

Campaigner Shane Dillon was the first of the Irish activists who were part of the flotilla to return to Dublin following the incident earlier this week, which caused international condemnation of the Israeli reaction.

The remaining six Irish passport holders are Isam Bin Ali, an Irish-nationalised man of Libyan background; Dr Fintan Lane (42), whose family is based in Cork; Fiachra O Luain (27), a former European elections candidate; Paul McGeough, an Australia-based journalist; Almadi al Harati and Ken O'Keeffe, an American man with an Irish passport.

Mr Al Harati is believed to have suffered a diabetes-related seizure while waiting for a flight in Israel. He was brought on a stretcher to Ankara for medical treatment.

The four headed for Istanbul were last night travelling on the Turkish Airline jets that had been arranged to bring the activists back.

They were due to arrive in Dublin this morning.

Mr Bin Ali was due to return to Ireland yesterday morning, said a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs, but his planned return coincided with an announcement from the Israeli government that all of the foreign activists would be released. An official from the Irish Embassy in Ankara travelled to Istanbul to meet with the Irish passport-holders when they arrived.

The Irish campaigners were among a group which was brought from the Be'er Sheva detention camp in southern Israel to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv yesterday.

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) said it was having difficulty in contacting those who were connected with their organisation.

The IPSC said Dr Lane had contacted his father in Cork and told him a number of the detainees had been abused during their time in captivity.

Irish Independent

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