Sinn Féin Cllr Mike McKee has criticised Clare County Council for allowing Israeli Ambassador to Ireland Ze’ev Boker to visit Áras Contae an Chláir and for failing to notify all elected members of the visit.
McKee feels councillors should have been asked whether or not they felt it was a good move to let Boker visit the Council Headquarters. “Obviously I’m disappointed that councillors weren’t notified of the visit of the ambassador and the Foreign Affairs delegate who accompanied him and I would have thought with the contentious issue surrounding the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Gaza and the West Bank that a bit more care to find out whether the councillors from Clare would have been supportive of this.
“I certainly would not have been in support of it and I don’t think my supporters or people who voted for me and indeed not wanting to speak on behalf of the people of Clare, many people in Clare would have great reservations about welcoming the ambassador of a state that has killed from the year 2000 almost 10,000 Palestinians and of that 2000 are children”.
Speaking to The Clare Herald, Mike suggested that the Israelis may have had something to do with trip being kept low-key. “I’m surprised that we weren’t notified in advance that this was going to occur given the fact that it is contentious. I would have thought feelers would have been put out, now it’s very possible that the Israelis themselves would have said themselves ‘we want this kept low-key’.”
The Shannon Cllr is confident there would have been a large turnout if a protest took place. “I have absolutely no doubt we would have had huge support and people would have travelled all across the Mid-West to come here and protest against it.”
When asked if other elected members of the Council would be opposed to the visit, McKee replied “Can’t answer that I wouldn’t think so somehow without naming names but I would guess there would have been a number of County Councillors who would be against the visit and would be pro-Palestine again I emphasise not anti-Israeli but anti what they’re doing to the Palestinian people so I’ve absolutely no doubt that more councillors would have been against this visit”.
He proposed instead of welcoming Boker to the Council Headquarters that something should have been done to acknowledge a youth group from Palestine currently touring in Ireland who are located in Limerick today (Sunday). “There’s a team from Palestine Youths people who managed to come on a tour of Ireland and they’re touring the country playing soccer, they’re in Limerick today and to me it would have been more of a gesture of good-will from the Irish community and indeed Clare County Council to have invited the team from Palestine who are enduring horrendous lifestyles to invite them to the Council and afford them a reception”.
Mike revealed that he plans to put forward a motion to the Council inspired by the visit. “I will probably raise it as a motion that something that could be contentious and this is most definitely contentious, I thought it was ill thought out not notifying the other councillors as to what was happening here, at the end of the day the County Council represent the people of Co Clare and I don’t think the people of Co Clare would have warmly welcomed the ambassador of this particular state”.