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Plenty of colour at the Solidarity for Palestine Event on Ennistymon Bridge. Photograph by Natasha Barton

Gaza bridge protests to continue

Two lobby groups who want an end to the war in Gaza have pledged to continue their “Banners on the Bridge” demonstrations over the coming months.
Members of East Clare for Palestine and Nenagh Friends for Palestine waved flags and shouted slogans such as “Free Palestine”, “Ceasefire Now” on both sides of Killaloe Bridge on Friday.
This third demonstration was part of a nationwide protest at bridges to encourage more people to come out in support of Palestine.
While Carol McNamara, Scariff, welcomed the government’s decision to recognise a two-state solution, she stressed this was not enough as it needed to introduce boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) measures akin to what happened to South Africa under apartheid in the eighties.
“We are here to show solidarity with people in Gaza. A lot of these vigils are being filmed and are being and are going back to people in Gaza who are facing starvation on a massive scale,” she said.
“There is a very strong feeling of solidarity with Palestine. We are very concerned about humanitarian aid not getting in. We need to send a message to new MEP that are elected in Europe as Ursula Vonderlyon has taken such a strong line supporting Israel, which people don’t think is right.”
John Doran, has been involved in the Irish Solidarity Palestinian Campaign since 2006, having grown up in West Belfast where he experienced the difficulties associated with “people being treated as second-class citizens”.
“I understand what it is like to have soldiers coming in wrecking your house and having police constantly on your case.
“What has happened in the last eight months has been genocide by allowing every child to be punished because of the actions of a few.
“In Israel, Palestinians don’t have the right to vote, they live in an apartheid state and are going to fight back. I don’t agree with what Hamas did on October 7 but I can understand the concept of fighting back. If they have no other recourse, they are going to fight back.
“We have to stand up and support them. We have to put pressure on our Dáil deputies and MEP’s to ensure this doesn’t continue any longer.
“Ireland was the first country in the world to support the people suffering from apartheid in South Africa with what happened with the Dunnes Stores workers. Irish people were discriminated against for 800 years.
“I was born a second-class citizen. No one deserves to be born like that.
In 2012, he claimed the Israeli Defence Forces killed the leader of Fata “using Irish passports” to gain access into Dubai.
He said no Irish citizen should support what Israel is doing in Gaza. Based between Ballina, where his wife is from and Kildare, he said every county has to continue demonstrations to shine a light what is happening in Gaza where he claimed journalists have been expelled to prevent them from reporting.
He claimed up to 20,000 Palestinian children who are in detention without any trial.
“Why is a six year-old who throws a stone is seen to be a legitimate target? Who supported the creation of Hamas? Gaza was under the control of Fata before a coup in 2006 created by Hamas that was supported by the Israeli Government because they didn’t like secularisation.
“15% of the Gaza population are Christians. Look at what is happening in Bethlehem. There are a lot of Jews who support Palestine’s independence, which we don’t hear about,” he said.
His brother, Paul, has painted a mural in Belfast with the help of a protestant Mark Ervine.
Another local mother, who didn’t wish to be named, and has a daughter, who is teaching in the West Bank, said Palestinian people are being intentionally subjected to starvation in a bid to wipe them out.
She said the only solution is for both parties to talk instead of trying to wipe out each other. “I wouldn’t excuse what happened on October 7, which was appalling, but that didn’t come out of a vacuum.”
She said it is naive for Israel to think it can eradicate Hamas as like what happened in Northern Ireland all it was doing was creating a new generation of “freedom fighters” even if the current Hamas leadership were killed.
“The vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians want to leave in peace. They have managed to do this in Jerusaleum. The killing needs to stop,” she said.
Margaret Hayes, Templederry, described the government’s move to declare its support for a two-state solution as a small move, which has been on the books for a long time.
Ms Hayes expressed disappointment with the decision by the Seanad to postpone a decision about limiting the alleged use of Shannon Airport for the transportation of military arms on their way to the conflict.
She believes that regular weapons inspections should be conducted in Shannon Airport.
“We know what the Americans were doing during the Iraq war. They were not visiting Shannon to look at the Mid-West,” she said.
She said people in the Nenagh for Palestine support groups have been involved in this campaign for years and have taken out an humanitarian aid convoy years ago.
“People may not be aware there are a lot of people who have been involved trying to help those in Palestine for a long time.
Working as a child and adolescent psychologist, she said the idea of children and adults being traumatised, the lack of proper healthcare, children dying and being orphaned has motivated her to protest.
She urged people to boycott goods made in Israel and occupied terrorities and not to invest in Israeli banks like the South African boycott in the eighties, which made a difference.
She added the government should also introduce economic sanctions.
Sarah O’Sullivan, Ballina, said people have to get on to the streets to protest about the deaths of thousands of children, men and women in Gaza.
“We need to keep showing up month after month, we just can’t forget. I have a baby and I can’t help thinking when I was putting her into her cot thank god she is in a safe home,” she said.
Lisa McLoughlin, Ballina, said it is important to participate in demonstrations to show Irish people don’t support what is happening in Gaza.
She called on the government to support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement to end interational support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.
“Protests are taking place across the world. People who never protested before are out holding flags. I am not anti-Semetic and I support all Jewish people but I don’t support a regime that wants another country to be annihilated.
The East Clare event was one of a number of vigils which took place around Clare on Friday with large events in Ennistymon and Ennis as well as an event in Gort.

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