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"I'm so proud of my son Fiachra" 03.06.10

Gaza activist due back home

by Linda McGrory

THE mother of Carndonagh man Fiachra Ó Luain said she can't wait to "give him a big hug" when he touches down at Dublin Airport.
Eleanor Lamb is expecting her only son home after his horrific ordeal as part of the humanitarian flotilla brutally attacked by Israeli forces on its way to Gaza earlier this week. At least 10 people were killed in the attack while dozens more were injured.
Eleanor, a music teacher, said the past week had "been like an eternity" as she waited anxiously for news of her 27-year old son.
Most of Monday, she didn't know if Fiachra was dead or alive and, due to an Israeli information black-out, had to rely on bits and pieces of second-hand information, before eventually hearing the good news. And the Trenbane woman's surreal week isn't over yet. Yesterday, she received a personal phonecall from the Taoiseach Brian Cowen and urged him to impose the strictest of sanctions on Israel.
Fiachra Ó Luain in the earlier days of the humanitarian voyage to Gaza. "When I heard the news early on Monday that the flotilla had been attacked I was absolutely distraught. The Israelis had cut all communication and all I knew was that Fiachra was on one of the lead boats," she said.
Eleanor then had to wait hour, after anxious hour, before learning that, while his ship Challenger II, was boarded by the Israeli stormtroopers, Fiachra was not among the dead. She has now also been officially informed that neither was he injured in the horrific attack.
An official from the Irish Embassy in Tel Aviv, Conor Long, visited Fiachra and other Irish detainees in an Israeli prison on Tuesday and rang her soon afterwards to say he was safe and well.
"Conor Long rang me and told me Fiachra was in good spirits considering what he had been through," she added.
Eleanor is currently staying in Co Offaly, caring for her parents, both in their 90s, in Clara - hometown of Mr Cowen.
"I left a message for Brian Cowen and in fairness to him, he called me back. He assured me the Government was doing everything in its power to make sure the Irish get home safely. I asked him what steps he would take afterwards to sanction Israel and I also urged him to deport the Israeli ambassador and all his staff from Ireland." She also wants Ireland to implement an immediate boycott of Israeli goods.
Fiachra and dozens of other detainees were being flown from Israel yesterday to Istanbul, Turkey, for onward flights to their respective countries. Eleanor was expecting her son to touch down last night or
sometime today.
And while he is expected to travel with his mother to his grandparents' Clara home, she hopes the two will still make it to a wedding in Carn this Saturday. Eleanor said she was extremely grateful for the many messages of support from all over Ireland including Inishowen. And, asked if Fiachra, a former EU election candidate, might put himself forward again politically including a run for the Dáil, Eleanor said "anything is possible". "He could well do that and I would support him in any decision he makes. After this ordeal, I know he will be more determined than ever to tackle issues of social injustice and I am very, very proud of him." For now though, her only thought is of getting her courageous son back in her arms. "I just can't wait to give him a big hug," she beamed.
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