Councillors vote to urge Govt to expel Israel's envoy

Updated / Wednesday, 11 Apr 2018 21:25

Sinn Féin's motion was passed at a monthly Dublin City Council meeting

By John Kilraine

Dublin City Councillors have voted to urge the Government to expel Israel's ambassador over the recent killings of Palestinian protesters.

The Sinn Féin motion was passed at a monthly council meeting as the party's second Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha prepares to travel to a conference in Jerusalem at the invitation of the Palestinian Authority.

Councillors also passed a motion from People Before Profit Councillor John Lyons calling on the city council to boycott Hewlett Packard goods and services with the company's contract with the council due to expire in September.

Cllr Lyons said Hewlett Packard technology is used by the Israeli government in checkpoints, ID cards and naval systems to impose apartheid on the Palestinian people.

Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and some Labour members complained about concentrating on the conflict given issues such as the housing crisis here.

There were also complaints that the issue was brought up through emergency motions, which are defined in standing orders as "urgent business related to a local authority function".

Labour Cllr Mary Freehill said the council, in which Sinn Féin is the largest party, had "no political leadership".

She complained: "We have this focus on saving the world. We are elected to save Dublin."

Fine Gael Cllr Anne Feeney said the motion to expel the Israeli ambassador was "nonsense", as well as "extreme and headline grabbing".

Council Chief Executive Owen Keegan said he would not implement a boycott of Hewlett Packard, which he said was against State and EU law procurement law.

However, a number of councillors spoke of the need to show solidarity with the Palestinian people, including Sinn Féin Cllr Larry O'Toole who said it was a "fundamental human rights issue".

Lord Mayor Mac Donncha said in a statement that he was travelling as Lord Mayor of the capital city of Ireland to acknowledge East Jerusalem is the designated capital of Palestine.

He added: "I am also here to express solidarity with the people of Palestine who are suffering violence from Israeli forces, as witnessed in Gaza most recently with the shooting down of protesters."