Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has intervened directly in the efforts to free the crew of the MV Saoirse following their illegal detention by Israeli Defence Forces while en route to Gaza, making representations to the Israeli Embassy in Ireland.  Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD has been working with the Department of Foreign Affairs on the issue.


Deputy Martin, whose colleague and former TD Chris Andrews is among those being held commented, “The arrest and detention of Irish citizens engaged in reasonable and legitimate protest in international waters is unacceptable.  This issue is as simple as that.  Wherever anyone stands on the wider issue of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict, there is no justification for what has been happening over the last week.


“I am conscious that officials within the Department of Foreign Affairs will be working hard on this issue and I am grateful for the support they are providing to our Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Seán Ó Feargaíl. I have spoken directly to the Israeli Ambassador today and made clear to him my view that while we respect Israel and its efforts to protect its citizens, this latest attack on a legitimate protest is unjustifiable.


“While Minister for Foreign Affairs I visited Gaza and witnessed at first hand the humanitarian disaster taking place within its borders.  It is entirely reasonable for international observers to seek to highlight their unhappiness at what is happening there.


Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD commented, “Officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs have been very active in their contacts with Israel and are working hard to secure the release of these protesters.  I have been unable to contact my colleague Chris Andrews directly, but I have been in contact with his family to ensure that they are aware of the Fianna Fáil party’s support and the efforts we are making to facilitate his and the entire crew’s safe and speedy return.”