Palestine protest held in Derry

Members of the Derry Friends of Palestine group pictured at the solidarity vigil in Guildhall Square at the weekend. (0811MM05)
Members of the Derry Friends of Palestine group pictured at the solidarity vigil in Guildhall Square at the weekend. (0811MM05)

Members of the Derry Friends of Palestine group staged a solidarity demonstration in Guildhall Square on Friday to support the Irish aid ship which was boarded by Israeli troops while attempting to reach Palestine.

A number of Irish people who were on board the ship were arrested and taken into custody.

Three of the protestors, Sinn Féin councillor Gerry MacLochlainn, community activist, Charlie McMenamin, and Donegal resident, Rik Walton, were on board a previous Irish aid ship which attempted to break the Israeli blockade and bring medical supplies to Palestinians.

On that occasion, the men claimed their boat was deliberately sabotaged and unable to put to sea.

Speaking on behalf of the Derry Friends of Palestine group in Guildhall Square, Mr McMenamin said; “Thank you all for turning out at such short notice to support our comrades aboard-the Saoirse and the Canadian boat the Tahrir.

“I was with the ship on our last attempt to break the siege when the boat was sabotaged. We pledged then that we would repair the ship and complete our journey, Sadly I could not join my friends on this occasion but we haven’t gone away as you well know,” he said.

Mr McMenamin also said efforts to assist the people of Gaza will continue. “The suffering of the people of Gaza would make a stone weep. We cannot stand by and allow this to continue. The people of Gaza are being held in an open air prison with this illegal blockade preventing them selling their goods to the world and even stopping the people of Gaza getting the cement to rebuild their houses destroyed by Israeli bombing,” he explained,

He also announced plans to travel to Gaza in the coming months in a renewed effort to bring supplies to the Palestinians. “As part of the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign I was part of this effort and as a member of Derry Friends of Palestine I am working to bring real aid to Gaza in the next few months.

“We will be travelling over land on that occasion and I can assure you that we will be travelling to any part of Palestine we are invited to by the Palestinian people,” he said.

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney, who also attended the vigil, said; “The interception of this humanitarian vessel travelling to Gaza in international waters is a clear act of piracy by the Israeli forces.

“We must ensure that the human and civil rights of Irish citizens, who are now in Israeli custody, are protected and that Irish consular assistance is provided immediately upon arrival to the Israeli port of Ashdod,” he said.