MEP Grace O’Sullivan and chair of Sadaka the Ireland Palestine Alliance Eamonn Meehan joined members of the Wicklow community to discuss Gaza and the role of the EU recently in An Tairseach, Wicklow Town.
In a recent event hosted by Wicklow Town Green Representative Mia Fahey McCarthy, MEP Grace O’Sullivan was joined by chair of Sadaka, Eamonn Meehan to engage in a meaningful dialogue about the conflict in Gaza, the broader occupation of Palestine and what role international foreign policy can play in promoting peace. Titled ‘A Braver EU,’ the event was attended by local members of the Wicklow town community in the conference room of An Tairseach - Farm and Ecology Centre.
The event began with opening remarks from the MEP, introducing her documentary Titled ‘Níl Aon Tinteán - mar do thinteáin féin’ (there’s no place like home)’ - the short film explores the occupation of indigenous palestinian lands, interviewing local craftspeople, farmers and families that have all been affected by the occupation. It was filmed during O’Sullivan’s visit to the West Bank as a part of her role on the Delegation on Relations with Palestine.
“My time in Palestine was fascinating, and I want to thank all those who shared their time with me. I met many Palestinians and Israelis during my time there, and this short documentary shows just some of the experience.”
Once the documentary had finished, O’Sullivan went on to address, from her perspective, what needs to be done to see this conflict end. Both calling at an EU level for a ceasefire with consequences, as well as at an Irish level bringing back the Occupied Territories Bill, which she was a signatory of when it was first tabled during her time as a Senator.
“We need a braver EU - which can recognise Palestine, be more critical of Israeli war crimes, and bring all our influence to bear to end the occupation.”
Following this, Eamonn Meehan was then invited to speak on the matter. Representing Sadaka, an organisation committed to the political and human rights of all Palestinians, Eamonn has travelled to Gaza on numerous occasions and offered an invaluable insight into the realities of both life on the ground in Gaza as well as the role, or lack thereof, of the EU and the US when it comes to ending this conflict. Both speakers agreed there has been a lack of leadership in the EU and if that isn’t strengthened soon there will be catastrophic effects for those trying to survive on the Gaza strip.
After both speakers had offered their voices, the floor was opened for a Q&A to a very engaged audience who offered their insights, concerns and opinions on the topics covered. Val Roche, also a representative from Sadaka joined in the conversation to help explain the history of Hamas in the region. Sarah Franklyn discussed a movement from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign to push for Ireland to invoke the Genocide Convention, notably to coincide with the then upcoming International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and the Prevention of this Crime, marked on December 9th as that was the day the UN adopted the Convention in 1948.
Mia Fahey McCarthy, who chaired the event, shared her experience:
“What is clear is that people in Wicklow feel an affinity with what the people of Palestine are experiencing and want to know what they can do to support them. We heard them asking what actions they can take, and it was really beneficial to hear what Grace sees as the EU's role in intervening and also Sadaka's reflections given their long-standing work supporting people in this region. People feel helpless and want to know what material difference they can make"
During her time in Wicklow MEP O’Sullivan also met with many other community members. Starting the day meeting members and mentors in the Sustainable Energy Community to hear their plans and projects for community days. Following this was a visit to the Politics and Society class in Educate Together where O’Sullivan delivered a presentation on her life and how her activist past led her to becoming an MEP. In the afternoon O’Sullivan paid a visit to local entrepreneurs and ecologically minded community members at the Jacksmills Hub in Newtown Mount Kennedy to talk about her work on the Nature Restoration Law and what it can mean for businesses.