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Calls for facilitation of 'peaceful protest' as Dublin 'Rally for Palestine' is cancelled after garda advice

The IPSC was planning to hold a “socially-distanced protest” at the Spire in Dublin.

Hundreds of people participated in a rally in New York on Monday.
Hundreds of people participated in a rally in New York on Monday.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

Updated May 13th 2021, 2:50 PM

THE IRISH COUNCIL for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has said the government must “facilitate peaceful protest” after a planned ‘Rally for Palestine’ in Dublin was cancelled after gardaí warned organisers about Covid-19 regulations.  

The rally was being organised by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) and comes amid escalating violence in the Middle East that has seen dozens killed in the past few days

The IPSC was planning to hold a “socially-distanced protest” at the Spire in Dublin on Saturday with the Facebook page organising the event telling people that they “must wear a mask” if they were planning to attend. 

The rally was intended to take place on Nakba Day, which takes place every year on 15 May and is when Palestinians remember Nakba or “the catastrophe”. 

For Palestinians and their supporters, Nakba represents the historical and continued exodus and expulsion of Palestinian people from the region. 

The post advertising Saturday’s planned rally said it was commemorate the Nakba in the context of the recent effort by Jewish settler groups to evict several Palestinian families from their homes in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

Following legal advice, the IPSC have however now decided to cancel the rally due to the risk that too many people could attend and they would risk prosecution.

Organisers had been contacted by An Garda Síochána to tell them that if the protest exceeded 15 people gardaí would have to intervene and the organisers could be prosecuted. 

Under current Covid-19 public health measures, organised outdoor gatherings have a maximum attendance of 15 people. 

In a statement, An Garda Síochána said it does not have any role in permitting or authorising marches but that the Garda management in the Dublin Metropolitan Region did engage with those organising this protest as it does with all similar events.

“Following this engagement, it is our understanding that these groups no longer intend to go ahead with their protest. This is entirely a matter for those groups,” the statement said.

Speaking to The Journal, IPSC chairperson Fatin Al Tamimi said people are angry about what is happening and understandably want to protest. 

“People are angry here and they want to do something, they want to go on to the streets but unfortunately it looks like it’s not allowed,” she said. 

Al Tamimi said that while others may take to the streets in protest at the ongoing violence the IPSC cannot continue with the event they were organising. 

The group made the decision following an emergency meeting last night that the rally would not go ahead. 

In a series of tweets this morning, the IPSC confirmed that the protest was off but said it was “exploring ways of organising solidarity actions that will comply with Covid regulations”. 

The ICCL has also come out to said that guidelines need to be provided by government that would allow people to “protest in a pandemic-safe manner” by for example holding protests “across various locations”. 

“Protest is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Irish Constitution and international law. It’s essential, even during times of emergency, that we can participate in our democracy via protest,” ICCL executive director Liam Herrick said this afternoon. 

ICCL has consistently called for explicit protection of the right to protest in Covid regulations. In the absence of clear law on this issue, the Garda have a discretion in how they interpret the regulations regarding events alongside the constitutional right to protest. However, this does not mean that the Garda have authority to permit or prohibit specific protests. 

Palestine Protest 098 Fatin Al Tamimi protesting outside Leinster House last year. Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The IPSC will be continuing its campaign to push the Irish government and international community to “do more to hold Israel accountable for their war crimes”. 

“The Irish government must use its voice on the UN Security Council to defend the Palestinian people. It must censure Israel for its unceasing attacks on Palestinians, not just this week, but for the past 73 years of colonial violence and apartheid inflicted upon my people,” Al Tamimi said. 

Now it’s getting worse and worse, they’re attacking Palestinians and nobody can stop them, they’re doing everything with impunity. 

Specifically, Al Tamimi says that the Irish government should support a call by Human Rights Watch for the UN to investigate possible crimes against humanity.

This call was echoed in the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday when Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland Dr. Jilan Abdalmajid told members that Israel’s actions “amounted to the crime of apartheid”.

Israel’s Ambassador to Ireland Ophir Kariv addressed the same committee this morning, saying that Ireland in general can contribute to peace by engaging in humanitarian work and also “listening to both sides”.  

He said that said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “is one with many dimensions ” including “national, geographical, historical, and sometimes even religious”. 

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One yesterday, Kariv said that Israel “never targets civilians” and claimed that “the vast majority of people killed in Gaza are Hamas terrorists”.

Ireland’s former justice minister Alan Shatter also spoke at the Foreign Affairs Committee today, criticising TDs for not asking “hard questions” of the Palestian Ambassador earlier this week. 

Shatter has defended Israel’s actions and has also criticised Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney for his intervention. 

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Coveney has condemned Israel in recent days, stating that the killing of children in conflict is never acceptable.

Sinn Féin’s John Brady is a member of the committee and says that a robust international response is required because previous criticism from the UN “has been ignored in Israel”. 

“What needs to happen here now and in terms of a response from the international community is we need to call it as it is, which is an annexation,” he said. 

“We have a number of recent reports from human rights groups, Human Rights Watch only in the last couple of weeks issued their report which found Israel guilty of apartheid. And yet we have the Irish Government that will not use the word apartheid, it will not use the words war crimes or will not use the word annexation, so we need to call it as it is.”

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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