herald

Monday 25 September 2017

Irish hurt in aid ship massacre

AN IRISH person has been reportedly wounded after Israeli forces stormed aid ships bound for Gaza.

The news emerged as parents of the Irish onboard the humanitarian convoy spoke of fears for their sons. Desperate attempts were being made today to contact seven Irish people who remain unaccounted for.

Up to 19 people, including at least 10 pro-Palestinian activists, were killed and 50 injured in the incident between Israeli naval commandos and the activists.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it had not yet confirmed reports in the Israeli media that an Irish person was hurt.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin summoned the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, Dr Zion Evrony, to a meeting at the department today.

Eleanor Lamb, mother of Fiachra O Luain, second mate on the Challenger 2 vessel which was intercepted by the Israelis, said she feared for him.

“I first heard about the shootings on the radio and I was very worried. All contact seems to have been lost. All I can do is hope for the best that he is okay,” she told the Herald.

The father of another man, who was also on the Challenger, said he had yet to hear from him. “We haven't heard from him since he left about 10 days ago when he was going to Cyprus,” said Jim Lane (72) of his son Fintan.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it had contacted most of the Irish onboard the flotilla and they were safe. Mr Martin said, if confirmed, the deaths would constitute a totally unacceptable response by the Israeli military.

The Irishowned MV Rachel Corrie, with five Irish onboard, was not part of the flotilla when the convoy was intercepted.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has made contact with all five and they are safe.

A total of 12 Irish passport holders were known to have taken part in the aid mission. Mr Evrony said he was “sorry that lives were lost and that killing people was never our intention”. He said the deaths were a “sad result” after Israeli soldiers defended themselves when they were attacked with knives.

Three Oireachtas members – TDs Chris Andrews (FF) and Aengus O Snodaigh (SF) and Senator Mark Daly (FF) – were due to be part of the convoy but were refused permission to leave Cyprus to join it.

At least three Irish people were on the Challenger 2, the boat on which the deaths and injuries were believed to have taken place. The first mate on the Challenger 2 is Shane Dillon from Dublin's south side.

He is a brother of well-known musician Eoin Dillon, who plays with the group Kila.

Northern Irish Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire was among the people on board one of the ships.

“We're trying to make contact with all the Irish on board the vessels. We're in touch with the Israeli authorities to see what happened. We have not been able to contact anyone at the moment,” a department spokesman told the Herald. At least one of the Irish on the flotilla holds dual citizenship.

Mr Andrews said there seemed to be a huge amount of confusion about what happened.

“If it weren't for the Cypriots we could have been on that boat. The Cypriots prevented us from getting on on Saturday,” he said.

”I would call on Minister Micheal Martin to call in the Israeli ambassador. He must have the ambassador account for what is happening and explain what is happening and inform the minister. And the minister must take action,” Mr Andrews said.

Freda Hughes of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: “We're very concerned because we've lost all contact with all of the boats. We are absolutely shocked,” she added.

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