FF senator awarded Palestinians' highest honour


A Fianna Fáil senator from Kilkenny has been awarded the Palestinian government's highest honour at a ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Senator Mick Lanigan was presented the Order of Bethlehem 200 by Palestinian President Yasser Arafat amid heavy security today.

 The award - the highest honour bestowed on behalf of the Palestinian people - is in recognition  of Mr Lanigans's ongoing support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

 "He has distinguished himself by taking a firm position on the right of the people of Palestine to self-determination," Mr Arafat said, adding that Mr Lanigan had been a friend of the downtrodden people of Palestine "when it was not popular to do so".

 Mr Lanigan served in Seanad Éireann from 1977 to 2000, during which time he campaigned for a Palestinian state while sitting on the Oireachtas foreign affairs committee.