Thursday, 3 June 2010

Gaza Blockade Protests At Belfast City Hall

As Irish peace activist and former Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairéad Corrigan Maguire, was taken into Israeli custody Saturday following the boarding of the Irish vessel Rachel Corrie by armed units of the Israeli Defence Forces, another equally famous Irish peace and justice campaigner, Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, was addressing a Gaza blockade protest at Belfast City Hall, that afternoon.

© Joe ÓNéill
The Irish ship, named in honour of the young American peace worker Rachel Corrie, who was killed by a bulldozer in Gaza while protesting the destruction of Palestine homes being demolished by the Israel government, was carrying humanitarian aid to the beleaguered citizens of Gaza.

© Joe ÓNéill
When the news broke of the killings of aid workers by the IDF last Monday, an impromptu meeting in support of Gaza blockage runners was held at Belfast City Hall at which President of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, addressed protesters which included many members of Sinn Féin.

© Joe ÓNéill
Saturday's protest was also attended by prominent members of Sinn Féin, including, MEP Bairbre De Brún, and MLA Gerry Kelly. If the irony of the attendance of Sinn Féin politicians and supporters at the event was lost on them then the fiery Ms. McAliskey was quick to remind them of it. Addressing the meeting Ms. McAliskey reminded the protesters that under new legislation supported by Sinn Féin such meetings would be illegal.

© Joe ÓNéill

The ''Draft Public Assemblies, Parades and Protest Bill'', published on April 20, by the First Minister, (Peter Robinson, Democratic Unionist Party) and Deputy First Minister, (Martin McGuinness, Sinn Féin) would make it illegal for all gatherings involving 50 or more people, which take place in any ''public place'' without giving 37 working days notice to authorities. The legislation would also impose a £5,000 fine and 6 months in prison for violations of the act.

Civil libertarians, community groups, trade unions and others, have expressed outrage at the proposed legislation and have vowed to mount an aggressive campaign to oppose it.

A public rally against the bill will take place on Saturday, June 26, at the Art College Gardens Belfast, and March to Belfast City Hall. The meeting will be addressed by leading trade unionists, campaigners, and community activists.

Useful links:
Facebook Page: No To Public Assemblies Bill.!/group.php?gid=104617472916202&ref=ts

Facebook Page: Viva Palestina!!/group.php?gid=238347355199&ref=ts

Sadaka – The Ireland Palestine Alliance

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