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Statement by the Tánaiste on the Detention of Irish Nationals in Israel

I am closely monitoring developments about the detention by the Israeli authorities of fourteen Irish nationals following the interception of the MV Saoirse yesterday.   

I hope that the group will be released from detention with all possible speed.

An official from the Irish Embassy in Tel Aviv met with them last night and met again with them this morning.  I understand that they are in good health and have been no complaints about their physical treatment.  They are being held at Givon prison.  I understand that the Israeli authorities were ready to deport them immediately provided they were prepared to waive their right to appeal such a decision.         

Embassy officials are providing all possible consular assistance to the group, including arranging for the provision of legal advice.  The Embassy will also raise with the Israeli authorities a number of issues arising from yesterday’s events (including allegations that the MV Saoirse sustained damage during its interception).  It is in ongoing contact with the Israeli Foreign Ministry about this matter.

We are making contact with the families of those in detention.  I can assure them that I and my officials will continue to accord the highest priority to the group’s safety and welfare while they remain for what I hope will be the shortest possible period in detention.”