GAZA ACTION IRELAND
Press Release, 21/9/12, 2.30pm
Unprecedented cross-party call by Irish politicians for an end to the Israeli siege of Gaza
EIGHTY Irish parliamentarians sign statement supporting ship, SV Estelle, now on its way to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza and call for immediate end to the siege
In an unprecedented show of support for the people of Gaza, dozens of politicians from across the island of Ireland have signed a strongly worded statement condemning Israel’s ongoing blockade of the tiny Palestinian territory and supporting a large humanitarian sailing ship, the SV Estelle, that is now on its way from Europe to the port of Gaza.
More than 80% of people in Gaza are aid-dependent as a result of the widely condemned blockade and more than 40% are unemployed. The local economy is in tatters.
Eighty parliamentarians from Ireland have put their names to the statement of support. Those who signed include TDs, MEPs, senators, MLAs and MPs from both north and south. As well as many independents, the list includes members of the Labour Party (e.g. Senator Ivana Bacik and Nessa Childers MEP), Sinn Fein (e.g. Conor Murphy MP and Gerry Adams TD), Fianna Fail (e.g. Senators Darragh O’Brien and Jim Walsh), SDLP (e.g. Mark Durkan MP and Conall McDevitt MLA), Fine Gael (James Bannon TD) and United Left Alliance (e.g. Paul Murphy MEP and Joan Collins TD).
A number of government ministers in Northern Ireland, including Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, have put their names to the robust statement, which expresses unambiguous support for the non-violent Gaza flotilla movement.
Never before has such a large number of Irish parliamentarians come together to insist on an immediate end to the siege of Gaza.
The Estelle aims to break through Israel’s illegal maritime blockade. A tall ship built in the 1920s, the Estelle sailed several weeks ago from Sweden, before stopping twice along the coast of Spain. It is now in Corsica and will head soon for Italy before sailing directly for the port of Gaza. It is expected to reach Gaza in early to mid October. On board the aid ship are reconstruction materials and other humanitarian goods that are banned or heavily restricted by Israel.
An Irish ship, the MV Saoirse, attempted to reach Gaza in November 2011 but, 60 miles from its destination, was surrounded in international waters by up to 20 Israeli naval vessels and forcibly seized. Fourteen Irish citizens were on board the Saoirse at the time.
Welcoming the statement by the 80 Irish parliamentarians, Fintan Lane, a spokesperson for Gaza Action Ireland, said: “Gaza Action Ireland would like to sincerely thank all the politicians who signed this letter. It is an important statement in that political figures from across the island of Ireland have united to say that enough is enough and the blockade of Gaza must end now. It is also a recognition that, unfortunately, little has changed since Gaza became a huge international issue – the Israeli blockade has been condemned by many governments, and deemed illegal by the UN, but nothing concrete has been done to end the suffering. Men, women and children continue to subsist in the largest open-air prison in the world.”
He continued: “This statement is an expression of human empathy with the people of Gaza and a declaration to Israel that the Palestinian people will not be forgotten. Palestinians and Israelis are equally entitled to have their political and human rights respected. What Israel is doing to Gaza is indefensible and must end now.”
Please note: These signatures were collected by Gaza Action Ireland, which was formed in July 2012 as a successor to the Irish Ship to Gaza organization, which was behind the MV Saoirse, the Irish ship that participated in Freedom Flotilla 2 in June 2011 and later in the Freedom Waves to Gaza flotilla in November last year, when the Saoirse was hijacked by Israeli commandos in international waters some 60 nautical miles from Gaza.
THE STATEMENT AND SIGNATURES
This summer, the intensified blockade of the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip has continued into its sixth year. The blockade – referred to as a ‘siege’ by its victims – is a violation of international law and of the fundamental human rights of the civilian population in Gaza. The blockade has devastating humanitarian consequences for more than 1.6 million people, most of them children, on this coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and the Negev desert.
The blockade is illegal, inhumane and—from Israel´s point of view—counterproductive; it neither stops weapons from being smuggled into the Strip or missiles from being fired, nor has it put Hamas out of power. On the contrary.
The documentation of the blockade’s inhumanity and failure to generate anything but violence and despair is mounting. A United Nations report issued in August concluded that “Gaza won’t be livable by 2020 if urgent action is not taken.”
The blockade makes it impossible to properly rebuild the hospitals, homes and water treatment plants that were destroyed in the massive bombing of Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009. The export ban prevents Gaza’s residents from earning a living and is an important factor behind the almost total dependency on aid. The “tunnel economy”, which is one of the consequences of the blockade, nurtures criminality and undermines any legitimate economy.
Family members who live in Gaza and the West Bank are denied the right to visit each other. Young people are denied access to higher education at Palestinian universities in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Fishermen are forbidden to fish outside of three nautical miles from the coast.
Throughout history, the Mediterranean Sea has provided a link between people and cultures. However, for the Palestinians in Gaza the sea constitutes a wall, just like the ones that separate them from Israel, Egypt and other parts of Palestine.
The blockade is a clear impediment to a sustainable and just peace.
However, it is evident that our politicians have fallen short when it comes to adhering to declarations on human rights and international law. It is now time for civil action.
Civil action is what the Ship to Gaza/Freedom Flotilla is offering. The SV Estelle has been sailing since the beginning of the summer. Gaza is her destination; ending the siege is her goal. We, the undersigned, express our support for non-violent actions of solidarity like the Ship to Gaza/Freedom Flotilla, an initiative in which we are committed sympathisers on land.
Our message is simple: Palestinians are human beings with human rights! End the siege!
- Martina Anderson, MEP (Sinn Féin)
- Nessa Childers, MEP (Labour Party)
- Paul Murphy, MEP (Socialist Party)
- Marian Harkin, MEP (Independent)
- Maureen O’Sullivan, TD (Independent)
- Ciaran Lynch, TD (Labour Party)
- Robert Dowds, TD (Labour Party)
- Patrick Nulty, TD (Labour Party)
- Tommy Broughan, TD (Labour Party)
- James Bannon, TD (Fine Gael)
- Thomas Pringle, TD (Independent)
- Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, TD (Independent)
- Clare Daly, TD (Independent)
- Joan Collins, TD (People Before Profit)
- Richard Boyd Barrett, TD (People Before Profit)
- Joe Higgins, TD (Socialist Party)
- Mick Wallace, TD (Independent)
- John Halligan, TD (Independent)
- Finian McGrath, TD (Independent)
- Gerry Adams, TD (Sinn Féin)
- Michael Colreavy, TD (Sinn Féin)
- Seán Crowe, TD (Sinn Féin)
- Pearse Doherty, TD (Sinn Féin)
- Dessie Ellis, TD (Sinn Féin)
- Martin Ferris, TD (Sinn Féin)
- Mary Lou McDonald, TD (Sinn Féin)
- Sandra McLellan, TD (Sinn Féin)
- Pádraig MacLochlainn, TD (Sinn Féin)
- Jonathan O’Brien, TD (Sinn Féin)
- Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, TD (Sinn Féin)
- Aengus Ó Snodaigh, TD (Sinn Féin)
- Brian Stanley, TD (Sinn Féin)
- Peadar Tóibín, TD (Sinn Féin)
- Senator Ivana Bacik (Labour Party)
- Senator Fiach MacConghail (Independent)
- Senator Katherine Zappone (Independent)
- Senator David Norris (Independent)
- Senator Jim Walsh (Fianna Fail)
- Senator Domhnall O Briain (Fianna Fáil)
- Senator Darragh O’Brien (Fianna Fáil)
- Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Féin)
- Senator Kathryn Reilly (Sinn Féin)
- Senator David Cullinane (Sinn Féin)
- Pat Ramsey, MLA (SDLP)
- Conall McDevitt, MLA (SDLP)
- Colum Eastwood, MLA (SDLP)
- Martin McGuinness, MP, MLA (Sinn Féin), Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland
- John O’Dowd, MLA (Sinn Féin), Minister for Education
- Carál Ní Chuilín, MLA (Sinn Féin), Minister for Culture, Arts and
- Michelle O’Neill, MLA (Sinn Féin), Minister for Agriculture and Rural
- Mickey Brady, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Willie Clarke, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Declan McAleer MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Phil Flanagan, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Bronwyn McGahan, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Gerry Kelly, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Sean Lynch, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Fra McCann, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Jennifer McCann, MLA (Sinn Féin), Junior Minister
- Raymond McCartney, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Barry McElduff, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Daithí McKay, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Mitchel McLaughlin, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Oliver McMullan, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Alex Maskey, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Rosie McCorley, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Francie Molloy, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Megan Fearon, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Maeve McLaughlin, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Cathal Boylan, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Cathal Ó hOisín, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Michaela Boyle, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Sue Ramsey, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Caitríona Ruane, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Pat Sheehan, MLA (Sinn Féin)
- Mark Durkan, MP (SDLP)
- Pat Doherty, MP (Sinn Féin)
- Michelle Gildernew, MP (Sinn Féin)
- Conor Murphy, MP (Sinn Féin)
- Paul Maskey, MP (Sinn Féin)
For further information, contact:
Fintan Lane (Gaza Action Ireland): 087 1258325
Claudia Saba (Gaza Action Ireland): 086 3938821