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Gilmore must back the Flotilla – Ó Clochartaigh

22 June, 2011

The Minister for Foreign Affairs must call on the Israeli government to allow the flotilla carrying humanitarian aid through to Gaza, according to Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh

Speaking in the Seanad, the Sinn Féin Senator said that given the clear connections with Ireland that the MV Saoirse, which is sailing as a part of this flotilla has, there is a clear onus on the Government to put pressure on Israel to ensure the safety of the crew, and to allow the essential humanitarian aid through to Gaza.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:

“There are some 20 Irish citizens taking part in the flotilla including artists, politicians, political activists, and former sportsmen, as well as my party colleagues Cllrs Pat Fitzgerald and John Hearne from Waterford. The MV Saoirse is an Irish boat and clearly there are significant connections with Ireland. In that context, there is an onus on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to act, and to put pressure on the Israeli government to allow the flotilla through to Gaza.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza has become deeply troubling as trade embargoes, travel restrictions, and food, fuel and medical shortages have had an enormous impact on the lives of ordinary Palestinians.

“According to the World Food Program, the Israeli blockade means that 59% of Gaza’s food import needs aren’t being met. We are also seeing massive shortages of fuel and materials, which have not only directly affected the living standards of ordinary Palestinians, but have created huge difficulties in terms of energy and employment. The UN has warned that Gaza will become a 100% dependent economy if the borders remain closed for import, export and travel. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has said that farmers have so far lost millions due to the pressures on exports.

“Huge amounts of people don’t have proper access to drinking water because pumps are out of action. The medical sector is facing further crisis due to severe drug and personnel shortages, lack of medical equipment and external travel restrictions. The WHO believes that 91 out of 416 essential drugs have run out.

“Frankly it’s practically unheard of for the victims of an oppressive regime to be subject to such sanctions yet not the oppressive regime itself.”

The Galway West Senator also added that it was time for the EU to end its preferential trade agreement until such time as the Israeli government respected its basic Human Rights law obligations.

“The Government should be doing all in its power to end the siege of Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinian people there, including calling for an end to the preferential trade agreement between the EU and Israel until such time as the siege is lifted.

“Given the precarious situation the people of Gaza find themselves in, it is only fitting that we acknowledge such initiatives and to do our utmost to ensure this boat reaches its destination and I have called on the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs to do so on behalf of this State.”

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