By James Ward, PA
Several thousand people have marched on the Israeli Embassy in Dublin as part of pro-Palestine marches across Ireland.
A total of 23 protests, rallies and vigils were held around the country in response to the violence that has erupted in Gaza in recent weeks.
The largest demonstration was held in Dublin, with protesters meeting at the Spire on O’Connell St and marching to the Israeli Embassy in Ballsbridge.
During the march, the crowd stretched 2.3 kilometres from Trinity College to the embassy.
Protesters wore masks, as requested by the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), who organised the event, which was described as “peaceful” by gardaí.
Chants of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “Free, free Palestine” rang out in front of the embassy, where a heavy Garda presence was in place.
Martin O’Quigley, one of the organisers of the event, has called on the Irish Government to do more for the people of Palestine.
He compared the situation in Palestine to apartheid in South Africa.
He said: “The Government has to do more, not just our Government, but the European Union as well.
“They’ve been saying for years that they condemn it, but it’s not good.
“I was involved in the anti-apartheid movement back in the 70s and 80s. You couldn’t just condemn South Africa, because they’d just keep on doing it.
“They had to have sanctions introduced in South Africa and there was a sports boycott.
“This country was one of the first in the world to boycott South African produce, so you have to take action, you have to show a bit of resolve.
“It’s no good condemning Israel any more because they’re not listening, and they don’t need to.”
He called for the implementation of the Occupied Territories Bill, which would prohibit trade and economic cooperation in illegal settlements deemed occupied under international law.
The Bill passed through the previous Dáil, with the support of the Green Party and Fianna Fáil.
However, it was dropped from the Programme for Government in 2020, with Taoiseach Micheál Martin saying it was not legally possible to implement, something disputed by its supporters.
The protests were part of demonstrations taking place in cities across the world, after an 11-day military offensive between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Ahead of the protest, IPSC chairperson Fatin Al Tamimi said: “As a Palestinian with close family in Gaza who has been so anxious and worried over the past two weeks, it has given me great strength and hope to see the people of Ireland in cities, towns and even villages all over the land out on the streets to support my people. Ireland always shows up for Palestine.”
On the announcement of a ceasefire in Gaza, he said: “Today in Gaza, a battered and besieged people are celebrating an end to a fortnight of violence and terror inflicted upon them by a nuclear armed apartheid state.
“But just because the bombs have stopped raining down on families doesn’t mean that Israel’s violence has ended. Palestinians are under attack every day from the violence of colonial oppression.”
A Garda spokesperson said: “A peaceful demonstration held earlier today, Saturday 22nd May 2021 in the city centre of Dublin passed off without incident.
“Rolling road closures were put in place to facilitate the safe movement of those involved and management of traffic.”