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Thursday December 24, 2009 11:19 by Freda Hughes and Fintan Lane - IPSC media team
IRELAND-PALESTINE SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN
Press Release, 24/12/04
Minister Willie O'Dea insists on 'safe passage' for Irish trying to enter Gaza in Xmas bid to break siege
Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea wrote to the Egyptian Embassy in Dublin on Wednesday requesting safe passage for Limerick woman Zoe Lawlor who is travelling to Gaza this Christmas to join the Gaza Freedom March.
Minister O'Dea wrote, "As Minister of Defence in Ireland, I would ask that the Egyptian authorities assist her passage through the Rafah crossing and treat her fairly. The Irish Government is committed to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and also to humanitarian relief for the people of Gaza."
Cork participants in convoy with George Galloway MP at Jordan reception yesterday
Minister O'Dea is the latest prominent voice to join the call of support for the Irish humanitarian delegation to Gaza this Christmas. Among others supporting the initiative are Proinsias De Rossa MEP, Aengus O'Snodaigh TD, Prof. Noam Chomsky, George Galloway MP and GAA legend Peter Canavan.
Ms Lawlor, who works and studies in the University of Limerick said, "I’m going on this march to show solidarity with the people of Gaza and to help to convince the Israeli government and the international community to lift the illegal and immoral siege on Gaza. I also want to be there to commemorate the 1,400 people in Gaza who were murdered at this time last year while the international community watched and did nothing."
Ms Lawlor is just one of several Irish people hoping to enter Gaza as part of a thousands-strong humanitarian delegation this Christmas. Also travelling from Munster are Kate O'Sullivan and Dave Carroll who left Cork in early December to drive an ambulance filled with much needed medical supplies some 4,000 miles across land to the beleagured coastal strip.
Kate is a 23-year-old graduate of University College, Cork. She is the founder and artistic director of Triantan Theatre company. Triantan are twinned with a Gazan theatre company and Kate is really looking forward to meeting them and discussing the issues facing them in a time of such hardship and oppression.
The Viva Palestina Convoy, of which they are a part, is currently in southern Jordan and is continuing towards its final destination. Spirits are currently high among those on the convoy.
Tyrone man John Hurson, reporting from the convoy stopover in Amman, Jordan yesterday, said, "Everyone is in fantastic form and the sight of over 200 Gaza-bound vehicles is mindblowing. Moreover, when I went downstairs this morning, a couple of Irish girls who live in town were there to meet me waving the Irish flag! Needless to say, I was so proud. Off now to a massive reception in the city centre."
Up to a dozen Irish people are participating in the convoy and the subsequent Gaza Freedom March, which will be held on 31 December.
John Hurson is available for contact by the media for on-site interviews, as are Zoe Lawlor and Kate O'Sullivan. (Mobile phone numbers below).
Both the Gaza Freedom March participants and the Viva Palestina Convoy hope to enter Gaza at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
For regular updates by participants, go to the open Facebook page 'Ireland to Gaza'.