In an escalation of Irish involvement, two Irish members of parliament and one senator have agreed to travel on an Irish ship which is aiming to breach the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Fianna Fail minister Chris Andrews, party colleague Senator Mark Daly and Sinn Fein minisiter Aengus O’Snodaigh have all agreed to join the 25-person passenger list.

The three Irish politicians hope to be the first senior Irish parliamentarians to breach the Israeli ban on aid vessels entering the Gaza port.

To get them there Doctor Fintan Lane of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) has put a 25,000 euro down-payment on a new vessel, which is currently docked in the Mediterranean. It's understood that the crew and all passengers aboard will be all Irish.

Lane was a peace activist aboard the first flotilla to Gaza earlier this year. At the time nine activists were killed by Israeli commandos after the flotilla was intercepted.

This new vessel will be captained by Shane Dillon, who was first mate on the Challenger I, a ship that was part of the first flotilla. Dillon was deported from Israel after the vessel was forcibly commandeered by Israeli soldiers.

Lane told the press this week that Irish peace activists have agreed that the next flotilla will take place in March 2011, a delayed start time that will allow more vessels to participate.

"We could have gone in November with six or seven boats, but if we wait until after Christmas, we will have 14 or 15," Lane told the press, adding that the vessel would be re-registered under an Irish flag before setting off.