Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh, and the two other Oireachtas members, Chris Andrews TD and Senator Mark Daly, today expressed disappointment at the interference by the Cypriot authorities who prevented the delegation of parliamentarians from leaving the island join the Free Gaza flotilla.
The Cypriot authorities refused to allow the delegation to board boats which were chartered to ferry them to the international flotilla, which is still en route to Gaza with humanitarian aid. The police used helicopters, plainclothes policemen, police boats and port security throughout the day to prevent the group from embarking to rendezvous with the flotilla which was in international waters.
The Turkish authorities on the island also didn’t seem to be willing to facilitate attempts to leave the island late on Friday evening [28 May] after the group had decided that they would leave from Turkish controlled Famagusta port.
With no prospect of joining the flotilla the Irish Oireachtas delegation were forced to return home, while wishing good luck to the flotilla as it headed to the Palestinian port city of Gaza.
The Irish parliamentarians said they were bitterly disappointed that the Cypriot authorities caved in to Israeli pressure, and blocked the other delegation members passage to the siege-breaking flotilla.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said: “It is disgraceful that any European country should be seen to act against a humanitarian convoy, which has been called for by UN officials and others to relieve the effects of years of siege by Israel, especially considering the murderous attack on the citizens when Operation Cast Lead left over a thousand dead and the city in ruins.”
Deputy Ó Snodaigh further wished his friends and colleagues who are on board ships in the flotilla good luck and safe journey and said: “I call on the Irish government
and all European governments to do all in their power to protect the flotilla and those on board from the threatened attack by the Israeli Defence Forces.
“I reiterate my call for greater action by the all governments to lift the siege of the Palestinian region of Gaza and the unfolding humanitarian disaster in the region because of the siege.”
Note: Some of the delegation in Cyprus succeeded in leaving Famagusta late on Saturday on one of the Free Gaza boats which had earlier been forced to withdraw from the flotilla because of mechanical problems.