Irish Nobel laureate remains in detention in Israel

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Máiread Maguire a Nobel Peace Prize laureate from Ireland remains in detention in Israel. Máiread Corrigan-Maguire won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to reconcile Catholics and Protestants, through the Community of Peace People, an organization which attempts to encourage a peaceful resolution of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Maguire was aboard a vessel, the Spirit of Humanity, which was delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza. The vessel was boarded by Israeli commandos, commandeered, and taken to Ashdod port where she was arrested and imprisoned on the charge of entering Israel illegally.

Maguire said, "US President Barack Obama has called upon the Palestinians to abandon violence but Israel is denying them the right to non-violently resist the siege of Gaza."

The boat was carrying three tonnes of medical supplies, toys, crayons, and a symbolic bag of cement. Its cargo has been confiscated. Maguire has said that the vessel was in international waters when it was boarded.

Israel has allowed former U.S. congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, to return home along with 17 others it had detained. The Israeli Interior Ministry had said Máiread Maguire was to be released and expelled today. The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin last week called for the immediate release of Ms Maguire. Also still in custody is another Irish citizen, Derek Graham, along with a Dane and a Yemeni cameraman for the Arab TV network Al-Jazeera.

Last week a United Nations human rights investigator, Richard Falk, called Israel's seizure of the ship "unlawful." Israel's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Aharon Leshno-Yaar, rejected that charge and said that "clearly the purpose of that ship was to create a buzz and serve as a propaganda vehicle against Israel."