Martin calls for immediate release of Gaza flotilla crew

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has today called for the immediate release of 14 Irish citizens who have been imprisoned in Israeli since Friday.

Deputy Martin said: "I salute the people who undertook this humanitarian mission to Gaza and their efforts to highlight the plight of the Palestinian people living there.

"When I was Minister for Foreign Affairs I visited Gaza and witnessed first hand the extraordinary conditions people are having to endure. It is a totally unacceptable situation that must be resolved.

"Israel's actions in boarding the vessel and detaining citizens are totally unacceptable. A former Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews is among those detained. Peaceful political protest is entirely legitimate and must be respected.

"I am calling for the immediate release all of those detained and a swift and safe journey back home. I want to commend the work of the Department of Foreign Affairs in this regard."

Twenty-seven crew members of the Irish vessel, The MV Saoirse, and the Canadian ship the Tahrir were intercepted by Israeli forces and detained as they attempted to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza.

At an immigration hearing last night the group, including Irish rugby star Trevor Hogan and former TD Andrews, refused to sign deportation papers, as they say they have done nothing illegal.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Embassy officials are now in talks with the Israeli authorities to ensure their immediate release.

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