From top: The flag of Palestine outside Eyre Square, Galway last Friday; Keith Finnegan, of Galway Bay Fm and Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, Ophir Kariv,
Not even Galway City Councillors were informed that the new Israeli Ambassador to Ireland was coming to visit the city.
It culminated in the most fawning interview with a foreign dignitary on local radio the author has ever heard
Ciaran Tierney writes:
In the West of Ireland, we don’t like to ask too many hard, tough questions or cause too much of a fuss.
We treat our visitors with respect, but a bizarre visit by a prominent diplomat last Friday has raised serious questions about who makes key decisions at a local level and why our elected representatives can be kept completely and utterly in the dark.
Who decides to invite an Ambassador to our city?
And who decides that elected city councillors – the people who actually represent us – have no right to know when a diginitary is coming to our beautiful city?
On Wednesday, I was told by someone who works for Galway City Council that the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, Ophir Kariv, was set to pay an official visit to the city on Friday.
The person who called me had no idea of the schedule involved, but he had heard that there would be engagements at NUI Galway, the Galway Chamber of Commerce, and City Hall.
I’m guessing he contacted me because he was aware of my keen interest in human rights and the fact that I have written extensively about the gross injustice inflicted on the people of Palestine. I sometimes freelance for Electronic Intifada, who are based in the US and work hard to give an English language voice to the oppressed.
So I made a few calls.
I informed members of the Galway Palestine Solidarity Campaign who, in turn, contacted members of the Labour Party and Sinn Fein who have done so much to raise awareness of the Palestinian issue at City Hall over the past few years.
They raised the flag in solidarity, they called on the Irish Government to recognise the state of Palestine, and no city official had seen fit to tell them about the proposed visit by the Israeli Ambassador on Friday.
Even the Mayor, apparently, wasn’t aware of the plans.
A few pro-Palestine activists considered a peaceful and dignified flag protest at City Hall, but it was difficult to get people mobilised at such short notice, especially when nobody knew the exact time of the visit.
I heard nothing more about it, but I’m aware that elected members of the City Council could not find out anything about the ambassador’s schedule. So much for local democracy!
On Saturday, a number of people sent me a podcast of a recording on local radio station Galway Bay FM, from the previous day.
As it turned out, Mr Kariv had visited the station’s headquarters on Sandy Road for a pre-arranged interview with current affairs presenter Keith Finnegan.
The people who sent me the podcast were shocked by the nature and tone of the interview (starts here at 52 mins).
It is normal practice for a new diplomat to visit provincial cities around the country, but activists in Galway were shocked that they managed to get through an entire interview without once uttering the words ‘Palestine’, ‘West Bank’, ‘Gaza’, ‘occupation’, ‘child prisoners’, or ‘house demolitions’….(more at link below)