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Irish aid ship to Gaza must be allowed to deliver humanitarian support – Sinn Féin

3 November, 2011 - by Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Responding to news that the Irish aid ship, the MV Saoirse and a Canadian ship Tahrir have successfully reached international waters in the Mediterranean Sea on a mission dubbed “Freedom Waves to Gaza”, Sinn Féin spokesperson on foreign affairs, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has praised the “heroism and courage of the crew of the MV Saoirse” and called on the Irish government to speak to the Israeli government and seek safe passage for the MV Saoirse, and to do all in its power to end the siege of Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Earlier this year, the propeller shaft of the MV Saoirse was sabotaged while docked in Turkey and this prevented the ship from completing its aid mission as part of the second freedom flotilla. The Irish ship has since been repaired, with funds raised via small donations from Irish citizens in all of the 32 counties. In total, the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign has raised over €140,000 for its mission, a clear sign of the depth of support among ordinary Irish people for the people of Gaza.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“I know some of those on board the MV Saoirse, including Sinn Féin members, and I want to commend them and their colleagues for their heroism and courage in standing up for the rights of the people of Gaza to live free of oppression.

“The Freedom Waves to Gaza Initiative is a non-violent, civil society movement, the primary aim of which is to end the Israeli blockade of Gaza. They have responded to an urgent call for international solidarity from 46 civil society organisations in Gaza

“It is clear from the recent vote at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to accept the full membership of Palestine that the overwhelming weight of international opinion supports the right of the Palestinian people to statehood, dignity, justice and freedom.

“The Irish Government must defend the right of Irish citizens joined by human rights activists from eight other countries to sail through international waters and deliver a message of hope to the beleaguered people of Gaza forced to live in an open air prison on horrendous circumstances.

“These two boats should be allowed safe travel and the Irish Government should be speaking to the Israeli authorities to ensure that they get it.

“I would further urge the Government to do all in its power to end the siege of Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinian people.”

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