A SHIP impounded in Dundalk last year after its owners were found to be exploiting the Lithuanian crew has been sold to the Free Gaza movement, who intend to sail it to Palestine.
The Latvian-owned MV Linda was seized by the International Transport Federation (ITF) last July after the owners were found to be withholding wages and subjecting workers to humiliating treatment.
The ship was auctioned at the Crowne Plaza hotel Dundalk last month where the Free Gaza movement purchased it for €70,000.
Now the Ukrainian crew, who remained on board until last November in an effort to secure payment of wages, will receive over €50,000 of the proceeds.
The 1,200 tonne cargo ship will take part in an international flotilla taking humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza strip this May.
ITF Inspector and SIPTU organiser Ken Fleming stated; ‘We are pleased to announce that this vessel which was used to subject workers to modern day slavery, will now be used to promote human rights for the people of Palestine’.
Free Gaza has launched eight missions to Gaza over the past two years. Five were successful. The last two were violently stopped by the Israeli Navy.
The Irish ship will be taking 500 tons of cement, as well as medicines, medical equipment and educational materials to the people of Gaza.
Derek Graham of the Free Gaza Movement says they have international law and the conscience of the people of the world on their side.
“We know the Irish people will not stand by and let the people of Gaza be starved and punished by Israel any longer,” he declared.
“In preparation for the launch of the Irish ship, hospitals, trade unions, churches, mosques, families and community groups are being invited to sponsor bags of cement to help the people of Gaza to rebuild.”
The ship will now be re-named the MV Rachel Corrie, in memory of the 23-year-old solidarity activist crushed to death in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer as she attempted to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza.