23 December 2023
By Tom Collins
Multiple demonstrations and creative actions for a ceasefire in Palestine took place in Cork city today, Saturday, 23rd December. Up to 1000 people participated in a rally and march organised by Cork Palestine Solidarity Campaign for the 11th Saturday in a row today. Children’s shoes were also laid out during the rally to symbolise the thousands of young lives who have been taken by Israel in Palestine. At the same time, Palestinian flags were flown from the carriages of the Ferris Wheel on Grand Parade. Also today, concerned citizens gathered outside Axa Insurance’s Cork office “due to its major investments in illegal Israeli settlements associated with human rights abuses”, according to a statement from the demo organisers.
Commenting on the actions for Palestine taking place over Christmas, Martin Shiel, Co-Chair of the Cork Palestine Solidarity Campaign said:
“Christmas is meant to be a time of peace and goodwill but for this year, for the people of Palestine, it will be another day of suffering under heavy Israeli bombardment, starvation, displacement, executions, kidnapping and torture. I’m proud that the people of Cork are refusing to look away or ignore what is happening in Palestine this Christmas. We’re urging Micheál Martin and other Government leaders to listen to the Irish people and take stronger action to play our part in bringing about a ceasefire in Gaza. Ireland must put pressure on Joe Biden and the United States to stop providing military and political support to Israel’s campaign of brutality. We could start by stopping the US military from using Shannon airport. The Irish Government must put direct pressure on Israel too – the Occupied Territories Bill needs to be passed into law without any more delays.”
Speaking at today’s march for Palestine in Cork, Deirdre Duff added:
“Hearing Christmas carols about Bethlehem carries a real poignancy this year. Palestinians living there, like Palestinians across the West Bank, are living in an atmosphere of grief and fear as Israeli forces unleash aggression after aggression; beating, killing and imprisoning Palestinians without change.
A church in Bethlehem has placed the baby Jesus in a pile of rubble. In a moving display of solidarity with the people of Gaza they’ve said that Jesus would be under rubble if he were born today.
Inspired by that solidarity, the people of Cork are taking action too – doing all we can to make sure that our eyes stay on Gaza, uncomfortable as that might feel. Because securing peace in Gaza requires action from us all. We need to make the Irish government hold Israel and its US and EU supporters to account. Everyone has a role to play – we need to keep showing up for Palestine at demonstrations and vigils, talk to our TDs and boycott companies that are complicit in Israel’s war crimes.”
Speaking at today’s protest outside Axa, Anne McShane from Cobh Palestine Solidarity Campaign said:
“Axa has a long history of investing in companies supporting Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. It previously invested in the Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems – making it a key target of the boycott, divest, sanctions movement. It has now dropped its investments in Elbit, but a new report released this month revealed that Axa is still investing heavily in other companies that have particularly bad human rights records and who are actively involved in Israeli settlements that are both immoral and illegal.”
Christmas, traditionally a season for peace and goodwill, has increased the people of Cork’s solidarity with Palestinians who are being massacred by the US-backed Israeli military. A variety of other actions for Palestine have also been taking place in Cork throughout the Christmas period. On Tuesday 19th December, children’s shoes were laid out on the Bishopstown campus of Munster Technological University to serve as a poignant visual reminder of the thousands of children who have been killed. On Thursday 21st December a silent candlelit vigil took place in Youghal while on Friday 22nd December a Gaza Nativity scene assembled on Grand Parade at 3pm. On St Stephen’s Day, concerned citizens will forgo their turkey and ham to sit outside Cork City Hall for a 24-hour fast, starting at 10am on Tuesday 26th December.
Numerous other demonstrations for Palestine are taking place across Cork county over Christmas, including in Ballincollig, Clonakilty, Carrigaline and Skibbereen. Similar demonstrations are taking place throughout Ireland, with a candlelit vigil taking place outside the GPO in Dublin on Friday 22nd December at 5.30pm and demonstrations planned for Galway, Limerick, Belfast and Omagh on Saturday 23rd December. Demonstrations for Palestine will also take place on New Year’s Eve in Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, Ennis and Sligo.