President greets Palestinian women’s football team at Áras ahead of Dublin match

Palestinian players tell Michael D Higgins how much they ‘appreciated the support they have received in Ireland’

President Michael D Higgins has praised Dublin football club Bohemians for their initiative in inviting the Palestinian national women’s team to Ireland for what will be their first match played in Europe.

Mr Higgins wished both the visiting team and Bohemians women’s football team well in this week’s match at a reception in Áras an Uachtaráin on Monday.

The Palestine team was represented at the Áras by manager Dima Said, captain Mira Natour and vice-captain Jeniver Shattara. Bohemians was represented by manager Ken Kiernan, captain Rachael Kelly and the team’s youngest player Savanah Kane.

The teams were accompanied by the president of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, and the Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland, Dr Jilan Abdalmajid.


The Palestinian players told the President how much they were looking forward to the match and how much they “appreciated the support they have received in Ireland”, said a spokesman for the President.

The team had reached the semi-finals of the recent West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Women’s Championship, which took place in Saudi Arabia in February, beating Iraq and Syria in the group phase before losing to the eventual winners Jordan in the semi-final.

Ticket sales for Wednesday’s game at Dalymount Park will cover the costs of the Palestinian team and delegation’s visit, with the remainder split between charity partners Palestine Sport for Life, Medical Aid for Palestinians and Aclaí Palestine.

Separately, Dublin City Council has been called on to rename Herzog Park in Rathgar in south Dublin to Edward Said Park, in memory of the Palestinian political activist, intellectual and author who died in New York in 2003.

An independent group of councillors, led by councillor Cieran Perry, who made the call said the park, which had been named after Chaim Herzog, former president of Israel and of Irish heritage, should be renamed to, “in a small but meaningful way, highlight the Irish people’s revulsion, disgust and horror at the indiscriminate murder of over 35,000 children, women and men in Gaza”.

There had been calls to rename the park in memory of Hind Rajab, a six year-old Palestinian girl killed by Israeli forces in Gaza in January. However, under council rules, council infrastructure could be named after individuals but they must have been dead at least 20 years, the group’s statement said.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times