Louth Sinn Féin have organised a protest for Wednesday afternoon at 4pm at the Market Square in Dundalk to highlight the plight of Palestinian prisoners.
1,500 Palestinian political prisoners launched a mass hunger strike on 17th April and say they are determined to fast until the death or until they get basic demands as conditions in the Israeli prisons deteriorate to a new low.
There are currently 6,500 Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel including more than 500 ‘administrative detainees’. These are detainees that have been arrested on ‘secret evidence’ and are not aware of what they are accused of and are not allowed to even defend themselves in court.
A spokesperson for Louth Sinn Féin said “we are concerned and want to highlight the contravention of International Humanitarian Law, which says that prisoners from
file photo from Dundalk 2014
occupied territories must be held in that occupied territory. That law is being broken here, these prisoners are being held in Israel and their families are regularly being denied entry into Israel, so the prisoners are further isolated from family and support.”
The spokesperson continued “as we approach the 36th anniversary of Bobby Sands, I would ask everyone to attend the protest on Wednesday at 4pm and show your support for the Palestinian prisoners and highlight the injustice of their situation. We went through it before in 1981, show your solidarity for these hunger strikers in 2017.”
Their demands include:
- Installation of a public telephone to allow communication with their families
- To resume bi-monthly family visits
- To increase the duration of the visits
- Allow prisoners to take photographs with their families
- To end deliberate ‘medical negligence’ (more than 50 prisoners have died owing to medical negligence inside Israeli jails)
Wednesday, 26th April, Market Square, Dundalk at 4pm – Everyone Welcome
Speaking in the Dáil yesterday Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD challenged the Taoiseach to “stand up now and formally recognise the state of Palestine. It does not need legislation it only needs for the Taoiseach to take that decision. I invite him to keep to his Government’s commitment to act in the letter and the spirit of the Oireachtas motion of two years ago and to formally recognise the state of Palestine.”
Teachta Adams said:
“The Taoiseach’s reply was vague and unacceptable. We were told that the Minister for Foreign Affairs is concluding work on this issue. But no timeframe for that was given.
The programme for Government states that the Government will “honour our commitment to recognise the State of Palestine”. Two years ago next month the Dáil and Seanad voted to do this. The government has failed to act on this.
Since the beginning of this year 252 Palestinian homes in the West Bank have been demolished. As a result, 1,062 people, including 553 minors, are homeless. In the last 15 years’ Israeli authorities have destroyed approximately 150 internationally funded development projects. This has cost the EU an estimated €58 million.
Among the demolitions were a farming project in the Jordan Valley, a playground near Nablus and a primary school serving a Bedouin community east of Jerusalem. At the same time Israel continues to build illegal settlements in the occupied west Bank.
In recent months there has also been a marked increase in the number of UN and NGO officials being denied entry into Gaza or the west Bank to work on internationally supported projects.
The Taoiseach has been in Gaza and I have been there. It is not a pleasant experience. Imagine living there.
On September 26th I raised this issue of recognition of the state of Palestine with the Taoiseach. Nothing happened.
Previously on June 8th I raised this same issue with the Taoiseach. At that time I was told that the Taoiseach would ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs to brief me and the Taoiseach agreed that it “might be no harm if we had a debate on the Palestinian situation in due course”.
Neither the Taoiseach or the Minister for Foreign Affairs have come back to me on this issue nor has the government allotted any time for a debate on the issue of Palestine. It is long past time that this state formally recognised the state of Palestine. The rights of the Palestinian people to statehood should not be dictated by Israeli opposition.”
Sinn Féin Youth held an emergency demonstration in Dundalk on Saturday in support of the Palestinian hunger striker Bilal Kayed who had reached his 71st day on the fast.
Around 80 supporters including several Sinn Féin councillors attended. The demonstration follows a meeting with the lawyers of Bilal Kayed by West Belfast MLA Fra McCann who visited Palestine recently.
Young protester standing in solidarity with 8 children being held in detention in Gaza
Speaking on Saturday, a member of the Sinn Féin Youth said “Bilal Kayed is currently shackled hand and foot to a hospital bed. He is being held without trial in what is effectively internment. The Israelis call it ‘administrative detention’ and currently there are over 750 Palestinian prisoners being held under this title, including eight children.”
Fra McCann MLA supported the demonstration and said “In the aftermath of last night’s indiscriminate bombing of the Gaza Strip it’s vitally important that we stand in solidarity with Bilal Kayed and the people of Gaza.
“During my trip to Palestine, I along with my party colleague Senator Paul Gavan met with and heard the personal stories of civilians who are victims of the ongoing occupation of Palestine.
Cllr Tom Cunningham’s 3 daughters with Cllr Jennifer Green
“The cruelty being inflicted upon the Palestinian people needs to stop and should not be tolerated by the International community.
“The international community needs to show their support to the people of Palestine and stand against Israel’s apartheid regime.”
On the first anniversary of the passing of a motion in the Dáil to recognise the State of Palestine, Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has called the refusal of the Government to recognise the Palestinian State “utterly unacceptable”, and has urged the Government “to act on the will of the Oireachtas to recognise the State of Palestine without delay”.
Teachta Adams said:
“On this day, the 10th December last year, the Dáil unanimously supported a Sinn Féin motion calling on the Government to support the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to recognise the State of Palestine. The Seanad passed a similar motion a number of weeks previously.
“Unfortunately, rather than acting as a catalyst for change in the State’s approach to Ireland-Palestine relations, the Government has refused recognise the Palestinian State, despite the all-party and non-party agreement on the issue in both Houses of the Oireachtas.
“Ireland, with our colonial past, our history of resistance and a peace process of our own can undoubtedly play a leadership role in the search for peace and progress in the Middle East.
“The line peddled from the Government that the Palestinian people must wait until there is a peace settlement for recognition is not realistic. No settlement will be reached unless the international community steps up the plate and recognises that Palestinian statehood is an important step on the road to lasting peace. It is unjustifiable for the Government to continue its bias of recognising the State of Israel, but not the State of Palestine.
“The refusal of the Government to act on the will of both the Dáil and the Seanad is utterly unacceptable and the Government must without delay recognise the State of Palestine.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has welcomed the two historic international decisions today.
The European Parliament voted by 498 to 88 to recognise Palestine as a state.
The United States and Cuba have announced the commencement of a new relationship between the two countries.
Welcoming the release of prisoners and the announcement of a new relationship between the USA and Cuba Gerry Adams said:
“The opening of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba is evidence of what can be achieved through dialogue and mutual trust.
I want to congratulate both President Obama and President Raul Castro and all of those who have worked to achieve this historic agreement which will benefit the citizens of both states.
I hope the new and more positive relationship between both countries can lead to the speedy lifting of the blockade of Cuba.”
Commenting on the overwhelming vote in the European Parliament in support of a Palestinian state Gerry Adams said:
“Today’s historic decision by the European Parliament follows on from similar motions in the British Parliament, in Sweden, in France, in Spain and in Belgium and last week in the Oireachtas.
This is a substantial and positive development and an important act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The Irish government should now move speedily toward upgrading the status of the Palestinian mission in Dublin to that of a full Embassy.”