Fermanagh council demands Israeli ambassador be sent back

Israeli Flag at Lisbellaw

The Israeli flag flying at Lisbellaw can be seen from the main road

THE traditional ‘Palestine/Israeli’ split within Fermanagh District Council resurfaced at Monday night’s meeting in a debate on a motion that called on the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny to send the Israeli ambassador to Ireland packing.

Independent member, Bernice Swift, who moved the motion, said she would not ‘sit idly by and turn a blind eye  to the horrors of genocide ongoing in Gaza on a daily basis’.


Councillor Swift said she wanted to send a clear diplomatic message to the state of Israel that their actions were not acceptable.

“We all know how the economic blockade imposed by Israel is destroying lives.  Everyone wants peace, but they want a peace with justice, and that justice must include an ending of the blockade. “To end this cycle of violence, Israel must begin to tackle the causes of Palestinian oppression.”

It was voted through, by 11 votes for to 10 against, with the SDLP’s John O’Kane abstaining.

He explained why: “Hamas were democratically elected by the people of Palestine, and Israel will not talk to them. That is why I can’t support this motion. Expelling the ambassador and so on is not the solution. It will only be resolved by talks.”

In the course of a lengthy, and sometime tedious debate, each side batted for ‘their own’.

Raymond Farrell set the (Ulster) unionist tone. He said the motion did  not take the (Middle East) issue in its entirety.

He said the situation arose due to the ‘hundreds of rockets’ fired into Israel by Hamas whose human rights record, he suggested, was ‘atrocious’.


“Some 160 children have perished in digging their tunnels. Instead of expelling people, we need to bring people together.”

Robert Irvine (UU) agreed that the conflict had got to stop but, he suggested, the actions by Hamas had to stop as well.

“I don’t believe in the blame game. We need a meaningful truce sorted out, and for Hamas to stop using the civilian population as a shield and for Israel to pull back from targeting areas they consider legitimate.

“For those reasons I would not be happy to back this proposal.”

The vote was then taken and it was carried by 11 votes or to 10 against, with Councillor O’Kane abstaining.

The council will now write to An Taoiseach and David Cameron, along with The Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, seeking the recall of their ambassadors to Israel and, in Ireland’s case, the dismissal of the Israeli ambassador.

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