CELEBRATED IRISH travel writer Dervla Murphy is to join Irish activists taking part in a Gaza-bound aid flotilla due to sail at the end of March.
Ms Murphy (78) will sail on a 25-passenger boat recently acquired by Irish activists planning to participate in the multinational flotilla, which is expected to begin its voyage on March 30th.
Several Irish politicians including Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews and his party colleague Senator Mark Daly, Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh and People Before Profit councillor Richard Boyd Barrett have also pledged their participation.
Ms Murphy contacted Dr Fintan Lane of the Free Gaza Movement and the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign last week. "I asked if there was room on the boat because I would very much like to go," she told The Irish Times. "I feel so strongly about the whole situation in Gaza, and I think the flotilla is a good way of drawing international attention to what is going on there.
“I hate publicity of any kind, and this is the last thing I would normally do. It shows how passionately I feel about Gaza.”
Asked if she felt apprehensive about the trip, given that nine Turkish activists were killed when Israeli commandos raided a similar Gaza-bound flotilla last May, Ms Murphy chuckled, before replying: “I don’t do apprehension.”
Ms Murphy, who lives in Lismore, Co Waterford, said she has been working on a new book on the Middle East which details her encounters with Israelis and Palestinians.
The March flotilla is being organised by a committee consisting of US, Turkish, French, Spanish, Canadian, Swedish, Swiss and Malaysian nationals. It is due to meet in Madrid next month to finalise its plans.
Irish activists are continuing to fundraise to make up the €80,000 cost of the boat, which is currently docked at an unnamed Mediterranean port.
Shane Dillon, who, along with Dr Lane, was on board one of the vessels raided by Israelis last year, will captain the Irish boat this time.
The flotilla is expected to comprise up to 15 vessels containing 1,000 people.