Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Defiant Nobel winner Mairead Maguire still bound for Gaza

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 hangs on a lamp outside Belfast City Hall
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

Veteran peace campaigner Mairead Corrigan Maguire is to continue her mercy mission to Gaza despite the deadly storming of an aid flotilla by Israeli commandos.

The ship carrying the Belfast-born Nobel laureate was heading for the stricken region today.

This morning Ms Maguire’s family were still waiting news of her whereabouts, however, it is known that she is safe.

Meanwhile the MV Rachel Corrie cargo ship, which Ms Maguire is travelling on, was preparing to make another attempt to breach the Israeli blockade.

The cargo ship has set sail as planned from Cyprus and is expected to arrive in Gaza within two or three days.

Marie Crawley from the Sadaka Ireland Palestinian Alliance group has spoken to a passenger on the boat and said it would be continuing its aid mission.

“The latest report we have is that the MV Rachel Corrie has decided to go ahead and expected to arrive in Gaza within two or three days and we have heard that from one of the passengers, Dennis Halliday,” she said.

Meanwhile Niamh Moloughney of the Free Gaza Movement said yesterday’s attack had made the group more determined.

“The whole point of this was to break the siege — they are going to keep going, and they are going in,” she said.

“I’ve spoken to one of the people on board and they are very defiant.”

Meanwhile Ms Maguire’s husband Jackie has still not heard from his campaigning wife.

But the father-of-five said Mairead — the high-profile co-founder of the Northern Ireland Peace People in the Seventies — has been in troublespots many times before and emerged unscathed.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, Jackie Maguire described the Israeli reaction as extreme but not unexpected.

“What they’ve done is terrible, and unfortunately these awful things come with the territory out there,” he said.

“My wife has been in difficult situations before, and I’m sure she’ll be all right.

Ms Maguire has been to Palestine several times defending human rights. In April 2007 she was wounded by the Israeli army while non-violently protesting with Palestinians against the apartheid wall in Bil'in village.

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