Irish boat headed to Gazan waters

The 'Rachel Corrie,' the Irish-owned ship with Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire on board, continued to sail towards Gaza waters despite Israel making it clear they were giving no guarantees about its safety.

Maguire said the deaths of ten flotilla members at the hands of Israeli commandos had not deterred her of her fellow Irish blockade-runners. "We’re not frightened, no," she said in an interview.

Meanwhile, Ireland's leader warned that the Irish government was watching the fate of the 'Rachel Corrie' very closely.

"If any harm comes to any of our citizens, it will have the most serious consequences," Prime Minister Brian Cowen said.

The Rachel Corrie, called after an American activist who died protesting Israeli actions, had been left behind the main flotilla in Cyprus for repairs and is only now approaching Gaza.

On board the boat  is an aid cargo of  cement, medical equipment (including a CT scanner)  printing paper, schoolbooks and toys.
The ship, which was bought by the Irish Free Gaza Movement and refitted after it was abandoned in port at Dundalk, County Louth,  is now heading for a showdown with the Israeli navy.

But Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin confirmed to the Irish parliament  that he had received no undertaking from Israel that the 'Rachel Corrie' would be given safe passage.

"In terms of the 'Rachel Corrie', we have received no assurances other than that the ambassador has conveyed to us that the Israeli government does not want conflict or confrontation with the 'Rachel Corrie'. So one would hope that a different mindset will prevail," he said.

Martin warned the Israeli government he would take "appropriate diplomatic action" if the ship was not allowed through.

"We will be watching this situation very closely and it is imperative that Israel avoid any action which leads to further bloodshed," he said.

Prime Minister Brian Cowen reinforced  the message by saying Israel "did not have a leg to stand on" and  warned there would be "serious consequences" if the Irish crewmembers of the 'Rachel Corrie' were harmed.