Palestinians ride boats in a preparation ceremony to receive the international aid convoy

The MV Rachel Corrie plans to attempt to get aid through to Gaza despite the violent attacks by the Israeli navy over the last number of days.

These attacks have, thus far, resulted in the death of 16 aid workers and have left 50 injured.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen described the vessel as Irish-owned and said it should be allowed to finish its mission. The ship was carrying 15 activists including a northern Irish Nobel Peace laureate.

"The government has formally requested the Israeli government to allow the Irish-owned ship ... to be allowed to complete its journey unimpeded and discharge its humanitarian cargo in Gaza," Cowen told parliament in Dublin.

The Irish cargo ship was not with the first wave of the flotilla as it was delayed in Cyprus due to logistic reasons. Its crew has not been dissuaded from their mission despite the attack on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara on Monday.

On board the ship are five Irish nationals and five Malaysians. The Irish on board are Nobel laureate Maireád Corrigan-Maguire, former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday, film maker Fiona Thompson and husband and wife Derek and Jenny Graham.

An Israeli marine lieutenant was interviewed on Israel’s Army Radio yesterday. He said that his unit was prepared to block the MV Rachel Corrie.

“We as a unit are studying, and we will carry out professional investigations to reach conclusions," he said in reference to Monday's confrontation. His unit shot activists aboard a Turkish ferry, Mavi Marmara. He said “We will also be ready for the Rachel Corrie."

Irish Senator Mark Daly, had been scheduled to join the convoy but was refused permission to leave Cyprus. He said that the Rachel Corrie had not been with the first flotilla as the ship was too slow to keep up. The crew had heard about the attacks but decided after conferring amongst themselves that they would not turn back.

Some of the crew of MV Rachel Corrie were interviewed on RTÉ’s (the Irish National Broadcaster) “Today” show with Pat Kenny. Ms Maguire said “Their port has been closed for over 40 years…1.5 million people, it’s like the population of Northern Ireland, totally cut off from the world by this inhumane illegal siege of Gaza…their borders are closed…there is a shortage of medicines.”

She insisted that it was necessary for them to complete their mission.

“Could you imagine if that happened to the 1.5 million people in Northern Ireland, the world would be absolutely crying out that this stop immediately,” said Ms Maguire.

Another member of the crew Mr Graham is quite confident that the Israel navy will have no reason to stop their passage. He said “Everything aboard has been inspected in Ireland…We would hope to have safe passage through.”

Michael D Higgins, the Labour foreign affairs spokesman, called on the Irish Government to demand safe passage for the Rachel Corrie.

He said “The Minister for Foreign Affairs . . . must make it clear that any assault on the Rachel Corrie would be regarded as a hostile act against Ireland and a clear breach of international law that could not be ignored by this country.”

The Fine Gael foreign affairs spokesman, Billy Timmins, issued a similar statement.

It is clear that the recent attacks have not broken the spirits of those trying to get aid through the blockade. Greta Berlin, of the Free Gaza Movement, is currently based in Cyprus.

“We are an initiative to break Israel's blockade of 1.5 million people in Gaza. Our mission has not changed and this is not going to be the last flotilla,” she said.

Though army radio reports stated that the MV Rachel Corrie would reach Gazan waters by tomorrow the Free Gaza Movement has stated that they may not attempt the trip until next week.