Áras Contae an Chláir

CALLS for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza have been agreed by elected members of Clare County Council.

At Monday’s meeting of the local authority, a motion seeking a boycott of all Israeli goods into the country and calls for a ceasefire were discussed but debate also arose on whether a flag in solidarity should be erected outside the Council’s headquarters.

Shannon based, Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) tabled the motion which referenced the ongoing bombardment and collective punishment by Israel of innocent men, women and children in Gaza over the last seven weeks. “We therefore formally endorse and support the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to compel Israel to comply with international law and universal human rights. In addition, we support calls for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and full humanitarian intervention to alleviate the suffering of the people of the besieged Gaza Strip. We call for the release of all hostages and prisoners by both sides as part of a comprehensive ceasefire”.

She said, “There are almost 18,000 dead with more than 40,090 injured and thousands more left under the rubble of what was Gaza”. Fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people have been denied by Israel. “There are 2.5m people crowded into an area that equates to one sixth of Clare, there is absolutely nowhere for them to hide,” Donna flagged. She suggested flying a flag outside Áras Contae an Chláir to show solidarity with the people of Palestine.

“All I want for Christmas this year is for Israel to stop killing children,” commented Cllr Liam Grant (GP). He voiced his horror at watching events over social media where innocent children are dying. “Irish people have been very vocal about this, we want to see a ceasefire, sanctions from EU need to happen to stop the slaughtering of Palestinian civilians”.

Support was voiced by Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) who referenced how “everyone in Europe opened their doors” to the people of Ukraine when crisis unfolded following Russia’s invasion on February 24th 2022. 70% of the 18,000 dead in Palestine are women and children, Cllr Hayes highlighted. “The response from Israel is overboard, it is shocking that America would not see the huge slaughter of innocent people and displacement of over 90% of their people”. He added, “We are all shocked and horrified at what is happening. We need to use our unique position where we’ve been recognised worldwide for roles in peacekeeping and humanitarian and act urgently”.

Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) said he always tried to work to the mandate of representing the people who elected him as a county councillor, “We’ve a Department of Foreign Affairs who operate to a higher level”. The Shannon representative admitted, “I found the lobbying on this motion distasteful and I would ask the meetings administrator not to have my name included on this motion, I am not knowledgeable enough to know what is going on nor am I going to pretend I am”.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) stated, “The Jews are a unique race, they seem to have been terrorised no matter where they have lived”. He continued, “Israel is creating a wall of hate into the future that was never envisaged”.

An opportunity to discuss the war was welcomed by Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) who said there had “a lot of conversations” on the matter across the county. “Who could not support a call for a ceasefire especially when we’re seeing the results of it every evening in high-definition on our television screens”. Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) stressed a ceasefire was necessary as he appealed for hostages to be returned to their native countries.

Scenes from the media are “gut wrenching,” admitted Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG), “It is almost surreal. I really hope we’re not becoming desensitised from a distance”. He agreed with Cllr Flynn that the lobbying towards councillors left a lot to be desired “but that has to be parked given the horror”. He pleaded, “Stop the slaughter and what is going on, it is sub-human. The fear I have is we are being desensitised by social media”.

Efforts of the Irish Government were praised by Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF). “Any reasonable person, I thought should I be bringing this up in a local chamber, they are issues beyond our remit but Cllr McGettigan did respond to the lobbying brought before all our emails,” she remarked. She expressed disappointment in her “adopted country” of the United States of America on the matter and said she didn’t support the call for a boycott of Israel goods in Ireland.

“Nobody could say no to support for call of ceasefire,” stated Cllr Michael Begley (IND). He added, “I do resent somewhat the communications we’ve been having over the last number of weeks, if people feel councillors are worthy of supporting their sentiment, I don’t think they should be sending intimidating emails to us”. Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) said, “Any motion that calls for the cessation of war has to be supported, men, women and children have been slaughtered”.

Public representatives must take a stand, Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF) insisted, “We might not have known what was happening in Auschwitz, the TV may not have been on in all the sitting rooms but it is on now, I want to lend my support to whoever reads the record in 20 years that I am looking for a ceasefire”.

Seeing the scenes from Palestine have been incredibly tough, Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) said, he opposed calls for a boycott. Slaughter must stop in Palestine, Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) maintained. “What we’ve witnessed on our TV screens is scandalous and embarrassing,” Mayor of Clare, Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) remarked.

Admitting it was not a nice motion to table, Cllr McGettigan felt it was necessary. “The Palestinians will hear the local people standing up for them and it will give them strength. I did receive one email, I am disheartened to hear other lobbying emails came through that weren’t nice, I wasn’t the author of them”.

Cllr McGettigan repeated her calls for a flag to be flown outside the Council and this was seconded by Cllr Hayes. Objections to flying an Israel or Palestine flag was voiced by Colleran Molloy who suggested instead a white flag for peace, this was supported by Cllr Flynn and Cllr Garrihy.

“Far be from me to advise but it wasn’t part of the motion,” responded Cllr Killeen to calls to fly a flag. This was agreed by the Council Chief Executive, Pat Dowling, “This has just been raised. Clare County Council has publicly shown support in the context of the spirit of the motion, I don’t know what a flag will do to change that”.

Cllr Ann Norton (IND) stated, “I don’t believe having a flag flying outside the Council Chamber is going to be of any benefit to us councillors or the Council itself, we support different events and groups locally through the different supports for LGBTQ and Disability Day, even that at this stage is something the Council have looked at to make sure they are doing the right thing, I don’t see the benefit of a white flag. If we are going to fly any flag then fly the Irish flag”.

Clarity was provided by Cllr McGettigan that she wishes for the Palestine flag to be flown outside the Council offices and Cllr Colleran Molloy repeated her opposition.

Mayor Cooney then told the meeting, “the ruling is that no flag will be raised”.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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