Irish activists held in detention camp

Sinn Féin's Dáil leader Caoimhghin O Caolain has called on Taoiseach Brian Cowen to initiate a trade boycott of Israel at national and EU level.

It comes after an Israeli commando operation which left at least 10 people dead on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla yesterday.

He said: “There is shock and outrage at the actions of the Israeli government in attacking an aid convoy and killing voluntary aid workers in international waters. But there should be no surprise at this.

“It is the failure of EU governments, including the Irish Government, to match words with deeds which has helped Israel to act with impunity.

“The Taoiseach should now match his words with deeds and initiate an Irish trade boycott of Israel.”

Activist Shane Dillon who was seized by Israeli authorities in a commando operation which left at least 10 people dead on an aid flotilla will be sent back to Ireland today.

Six other Irish campaigners – including Dr Fintan Lane and Fiachra O Luain - are being detained in the Be’er Sheva detention camp, where they face deportation.

The three named activists were on board Free Gaza boat Challenger 1 which was boarded by Israeli forces in international waters as it travelled from Cyprus.

Nobel peace prizewinner Mairead Maguire remains on board the Irish-owned vessel MV Rachel Corrie, which the Israeli navy is preparing to stop.

Elsewhere, Lord Mayor of Cork Dara Murphy opened a book of condolences for the dead aid workers.

“I am greatly concerned at the loss of life in this operation which occurred in international waters,” he said.

The group of Irish activists held in the Be’er Sheva detention camp includes:

:: Paul McGeough, Irish-born journalist and chief correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald. The 56-year-old has reported from the Middle East for two decades.

:: Dublin-based Shane Dillon, 36, first mate on the Challenger 1, who was being deported today. He has served as chief officer on Irish and British merchant ships. He is the brother of musician Eoin Dillon from the traditional band Kila.

:: Dr Fintan Lane, 43, is a historian, political activist and spokesman for the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign. He is the author or editor of seven books on modern Irish history.

:: Fiachra O Luain, 28-year-old peace activist from Donegal who stood unsuccessfully as an independent candidate in the 2009 European elections. He was one of the first people to protest over the US military using Shannon Airport.

:: Two naturalised Irish-Libyans and one person of Irish-Polish dual citizenship.

Another boat, the Irish-Malaysian MV Rachel Corrie, is off the coast of Libya and intending to bring aid to Gaza.

On board are:

:: Denis Halliday, former assistant secretary-general of the United Nations. After more than 30 years in the UN, Kofi Annan appointed him Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq in 1997. He has been a strong opponent of the war in Iraq.

:: Electrician Derek Graham, who has been on four of the five voyages which landed in Gaza, and his wife Jenny from Mayo. Both are members of the Free Gaza movement.

:: Nobel peace prize winner Mairead Maguire. She was detained last year after attempting to get into Gaza with a boat load of aid and this is her third humanitarian trip to the Palestinian territories.

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