Thousands join pro-Palestinian march in central Dublin

Organisers said it was the largest such demonstration they had held.

Cillian Sherlock
Saturday 13 January 2024 17:47 GMT
Protesters from the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign during a march in O’Connell Street, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)
Protesters from the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign during a march in O’Connell Street, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA) (PA Wire)

Thousands of people have marched through Dublin city centre in a protest against Israel’s military operations in Gaza.

The Pro-Palestinian march began at around 1.30pm from the Garden of Remembrance and proceeded along the city’s main thoroughfare O’Connell Street before arriving outside the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Protesters waved Palestinian flags and held placards critical of the Irish, US and Israeli governments.

Demonstrators accused Israel of committing genocide as they chanted “free, free Palestine” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

Participants variously called for a ceasefire in Gaza, the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland and for the Irish government to support South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) alleging that Israel is committing genocide.

It is almost 100 days since Hamas gunmen launched an assault on Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7, killing 1,200 and taking about 240 hostages, to which Israeli military responded with air strikes and a ground offensive on Palestinian territory.

Ireland’s main opposition parties, including Sinn Fein, Labour and the Social Democrats, have called on the Government to endorse South Africa’s action.

However, the Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said the Government does not intend to join the case.

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which organised the rally, said the demonstration was part of an international day of action calling for an end to Israel’s operations in Gaza.

The march is endorsed by dozens of Irish civil society organisations including trade unions, political parties and community groups.

Spokeswoman Betty Purcell told the PA news agency: “It’s a huge demonstration, it is the biggest one we’ve had so far. We’ve been marching every Saturday.

“We need a ceasefire now but most of all we want to call out the Irish Government for its disgraceful refusal to support the South African case at the ICJ.

“They don’t speak for the Irish people, not by any means.”

IPSC chairwoman Zoe Lawlor said the demonstration was a “total and utter rejection of Israel’s genocide”.

Ms Lawlor said: “We are here today to express our outrage that this has been allowed, that world leaders have enabled, funded and green-lighted genocide and our Government has done absolutely nothing to stop it.”

The crowd booed and shouted “shame” at the Government while others joined chants calling for support of boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) actions against Israel.

She added: “The Palestinian people should be able to exist in a world without violence and oppression, to live in the ordinary, to live in freedom.”

Veteran Northern Irish civil rights campaigner Bernadette McAliskey told the crowd that “Palestine is the litmus test of our humanity”.

The 76-year-old activist said she had been standing up for the rights of Palestinians for more than 50 years.

She called on Irish premier Leo Varadkar and deputy premier Micheal Martin, as well as Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald to boycott traditional St Patrick’s Day visits to Washington as she accused US president Joe Biden of “enabling genocide”.

“Who in their right mind and conscience, on the national day of a country that freed itself from oppression, would go to America and give the bastard a bunch of fecking shamrock?

“It is not much to ask. Weigh up the corpses of Gaza against a jolly in the United States.”

To applause, Ms McAliskey also encouraged the demonstrators not to give any preference vote to politicians who do travel to Washington.

Protesters of all ages, some wearing keffiyehs or waving South African flags, took part in the march through drizzly conditions in Dublin.

Among them, Fiona Sullivan and Geraldine Lee travelled from Belfast in Northern Ireland to participate.

Ms Sullivan said: “It’s an absolute disgrace what’s going on, the world needs to show that we’re not going to accept it

“This is the little that we can do to show the people of Gaza and Palestine that the Irish people are 100% behind them whether our government is behind them or not – we are.”

Ms Lee added: “They’re not in line with the public at all. The public have completely different ideas.

“The Government must not watch anything or see the children dying in Palestine. They don’t understand what’s going on – I can’t sleep thinking about it.”

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