Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Nobel winner Mairead tells of determination on Irish aid ship as Gaza nears

Mairead Maguire with aid ship the MV Rachel Corrie
Mairead Maguire with aid ship the MV Rachel Corrie
Archive photo of Fiachra O'Luaine from Carndonagh, Co. Donegal, on the Rachel Corrie
Irish activist Shane Dillon arrives back at Dublin Airport after he was deported from Israel following a commando raid on the Gaza aid flotilla
Irish activist Shane Dillon arrives back at Dublin Airport after he was deported from Israel following a commando raid on the Gaza aid flotilla
Irish activist Shane Dillon arrives back at Dublin Airport after he was deported from Israel following a commando raid on the Gaza aid flotilla
Ibrahim Musaji's mother Fatima (left) and sister is Farhara are interviewed at their home in Gloucester, after Ibrahim was believed to be amongst those that were taking part in the aid flotilla attacked by Israelis
Nobel peace prize winner Mairead Maguire standing beside the Cargo ship the MV Rachel Corrie 12/05/10
Demonstrators gather in front of the White House to protest against US funding of Israel in Lafayette Park June 1, 2010 in Washington, DC
Peter Venner was seized by Israeli authorities
Demonstrators gather in front of the White House to protest against U.S. funding of Israel in Lafayette Park June 1, 2010 in Washington, DC
Pakistani protesters who try to reach the US Consulate, confront police officers during a rally denouncing Israel's raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip, Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators hold a Turkish national flag and shout anti-Israel slogans during a protest in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Tuesday, June, 1, 2010
Egyptian activists clash with riot police during a protest against the Israeli naval operation storming a flotilla of ships carrying aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip
A protester hangs on a lamp outside Belfast City Hall
Gerry Adams with protesters outside Belfast City Hall
Deputy First Minister Minister Martin McGuinness who joined several hundred people in Derry's Guild Hall Square in protest at the raid on the aid flotilla which was travelling to Gaza
Some of the several hundred people in Derry's Guild Hall Square in protest at the raid on the aid flotilla which was travelling to Gaza
A protester hangs on a lamp outside Belfasat City Hall
Protesters outside Belfast City Hall
Protesters outside Belfast City Hall
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Pro-Palestianian campaigners in Whitehall, London
Pro-Palestianian campaigners in Whitehall, London
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Actor Adrian Dunbar (right) joins protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
A large crowd of protesters stand at the entrance to Kensington Palace Green and the Israeli Embassy
An Hasidic Jew, a group who traditionally do not agree with Israel's action against Palestine, reads scripture during a campaign in Whitehall, London
Pro-Palestianian campaigners in Whitehall, London
Turkish women shout anti-Israeli slogans during a protest in front of the UN house in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israeli Navy soldiers prepare to intercept several boats
Protesters burn a Star of David during a demonstration outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israelis attend a demonstration in support of Israel following a deadly raid by the Israel military on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza
A border policeman looks on as Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israeli Navy soldiers intercept several boats headed towards the Gaza Strip
Israeli Navy soldiers prepare to approach and board as they intercept several boats headed towards the Gaza Strip
Israeli Navy soldier stands behind a machine gun aboard a missile ship while Israeli Navy soldiers intercept several boats headed towards the Gaza Strip
An Israeli soldier carries a blood-stained stretcher back to an Israeli army helicopter
View from aboard an Israeli Naval vessel
Israeli Navy soldiers approaches a Navy missile ship
Israeli medics rush an injured man for treatment at the Rambam hospital in the northern Israeli city of Haifa
A Turkish man seen next to a sign in Turkish that reads "down with Israel" and "Free Gaza" as Pro-Palestinian Turks nearby shout slogans during a protest against Israel near the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul
Protesters burn a Star of David during a demonstration outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israeli and foreign left-wing protestors hold placards against Israeli policies during a protest against Israeli naval commandos raid on a flotilla
Protesters clash with police officers outside the Israeli embassy in Athens, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israeli police detain a masked Arab Israeli protester during clashes in the northern Arab Israeli town of Umm el-Fahm, Monday, May 31, 2010
A protester cries during a demonstration at Taksim square in Istanbul, Monday, May 31, 2010
Turkish and international activists seen on the deck of a Turkish ship shortly before Israeli forces boarded the vessel carrying humanitarian aid bound for the blockaded Gaza strip, late Sunday, May 30, 2010
Israeli police detain a masked Arab Israeli protester, center, as an Israeli journalist tries to interview him, during clashes in the northern Arab Israeli town of Umm el-Fahm, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israelis attend a demonstration in support of Israel following a deadly raid by the Israel military on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza
Israelis attend a demonstration in support of Israel following a deadly raid by the Israel military on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza
Israelis attend a demonstration in support of Israel following a deadly raid by the Israel military on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza
Israelis wearing snorkels attend a demonstration in support of Israel
Israeli Navy Intercepts peace boats bound for Gaza
Israeli Navy soldiers aboard a boat as the Israeli Navy intercepts peace boats bound for Gaza on May 31, 2010
Israeli Navy soldiers prepare to disembark a missile ship as the Israeli Navy intercepts peace boats bound for Gaza on May 31, 2010
This video image released by the Turkish Aid group IHH Monday May 31, 2010 purports to show an injured passenger on a Turkish ship, part of an aid convoy heading to the Gaza Strip
Image released by the Turkish Aid group IHH Monday May 31, 2010 purports to show Israeli soldiers aboard a military vessel in international waters off the Gaza
This video image released by the Turkish Aid group IHH Monday May 31, 2010 purports to show Israeli soldiers aiming a gun on the deck of a Turkish ship, part of an aid convoy heading to the Gaza Strip
Palestinian Islamic Jihad supporters hold Turkish flags as they ride on their motorcycles during a protest in Gaza City, Monday, May 31, 2010.
Palestinians ride boats in Gaza waters as a flotilla of aid ships leaves for the blockaded territory (AP)
Israeli Navy sailors embark on the I.N.S. Hanit in order to stop a flotilla of activists attempting to deliver aid to Gaza in spite of Israel's blockade May 30, 2010 in Haifa, Israel
Israeli Navy sailors embark on a warship in order to stop a flotilla of activists attempting to deliver aid to Gaza in spite of Israel's blockade May 30, 2010 in Haifa, Israel
Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate a day before the expected arrival of a flotilla of hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists carrying 10,000 tons of supplies into the Gaza Strip, in Paris, Friday May 28, 2010
Palestinian members of the Hamas naval police and civilian defense officers ride a boat at Gaza port during a display of their preparations ahead of the expected arrival of a flotilla of hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists trying to sail into the Gaza Strip, in Gaza city, Friday, May 28

Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire last night insisted she did not fear confrontation with Israeli forces as the aid ship she is travelling on inched closer to the Gaza coast.

The Northern Ireland woman and her 19 fellow activists on board the MV Rachel Corrie are hoping to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza today.

In the aftermath of the shooting of nine activists on another aid ship bound for Gaza on Monday, the crew of the Irish vessel vowed to keep going towards an almost certain confrontation with the Israeli military. By 7pm last night the MV Rachel Corrie was 100 miles off the Gaza coast.

The vessel is expected to reach the Israeli-imposed exclusion zone in the early hours of this morning.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, Mrs Corrigan Maguire said she and her fellow activists would gather together as night fell on the MV Rachel Corrie and await the conclusion of their three-week journey.

She said: “I do not feel nervous and I am not afraid. I feel very calm. We feel very well and are in good form. We are determined to keep sailing. It is still daylight here, the sea is a bit choppy, but it is very beautiful. When night falls we will stay together on the deck and hold a vigil.”

Despite the obvious danger, Mrs Corrigan Maguire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976, remained steadfast in her goal to reach Gaza.

She added: “I must say, I feel very hopeful. Should the Israelis not allow us to enter we will sit in international waters. They might come onboard and commandeer the ship.

“Although, we don’t think they will come on board. If they do, there will be no resistance from us — we will go quietly.”

Yesterday it was reported that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel would not allow its Gaza blockade to be breached. “No ship will reach Gaza. The Rachel Corrie will not reach Gaza,” he told Israel Radio.

Ahead of the MV Rachel Corrie making landfall, the activists refused to accept a deal brokered between officials from the Irish and Israeli governments.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said he fully accepted the decision to continue with the journey.

“If, as is their stated intention, the Israeli government intercepts the Rachel Corrie, the government demands it demonstrate every restraint,” Mr Martin warned.

The MV Rachel Corrie is carrying 1,000 tonnes of cement, educational materials, toys and medical equipment, totalling an estimated €1m in aid. On board the 1,200-tonne vessel are 19 people — five Irish and six Malaysian, along with a crew of eight.

Mrs Corrigan Maguire, who lives in Strangford, helped set up the Peace People organisation with fellow Laureate Betty Williams.

She last night said that if she was arrested by the Israelis, it would not deter her from reaching the people of Gaza.

“There are just 19 of us aboard this ship and we have become very good friends over the past few weeks. We intend to continue in our efforts to break the blockade on Gaza. We have asked President Obama to ensure us a safe passage and for this reason we are happy for an independent body, like the UN, to come on board and inspect the cargo.

“The people are suffering very much in their collective punishment by the Israeli government’s policy. If we make it to Gaza tomorrow we will be the first cargo boat ever to break the blockade in 42 years.”

The Primate of All-Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, also lent his support to Mrs Corrigan Maguire’s efforts and condemned the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

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