Irish politicians set to travel on Gaza aid vessel - Sunday Business Post - 241010

27/10/2010 - 00:00

Irish politicians set to travel on Gaza aid vessel
24 October 2010 By John Burke

Two TDs and one senator will travel on an Irish ship which is aiming to breach the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews, party colleague Senator Mark Daly and Sinn Fe¤ in’s Aengus O’Snodaigh have signed up to the 25-person passenger list.

They are hoping to be the first Irish parliamentarians to breach the Israeli government imposed ban on aid vessels entering Gaza port.

A campaign group headed by Dr Fintan Lane has put a €25,000 down-payment on the vessel, which is currently docked in the Mediterranean. The crew and passengers will be all Irish.

Lane was an activist on the first flotilla to Gaza earlier this year. Nine activists were killed on one of the ships after the flotilla was intercepted by Israeli commandos.

This new vessel will be captained by Shane Dillon, who was first mate on the Challenger I, which was also part of the first flotilla.

Dillon was deported from Israel when that vessel was boarded and forcibly commandeered by Israeli soldiers into the port of Ashdod.

Twenty names have so far been confirmed for the 25-person passenger list, with the remaining five to be decided, Lane told The Sunday Business Post.

Lane said that the Irish activists were ready to travel by next month, but said a consensus had emerged among participants that the next flotilla would take place in March 2011, to allow more vessels to participate.

‘‘We could have gone in November with six or seven boats, but if we wait until after Christmas, we will have 14 or 15," he said, adding that the vessel would be re-registered under an Irish flag before setting off.

The other vessels are due to be supplied and manned by activists from the US, Canada, Spain, Italy, Britain, Sweden, Malaysia and Norway, among others.

The flotilla will include the MV Mavi Marmara, the boat on which the activists were shot dead during the last campaign. The Mavi Marmara is currently in Turkey but the interior of the ship has been largely destroyed and will require a full scale refit.

Turkish marine engineers have said this will take several months to complete