Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown councillors seek to stop purchases from occupied territories

Council chief executive says he ‘cannot guarantee if the policy will be implemented’

A Palestinian protester waves Palestine flag during clashes with Israeli troops after a protest against Israeli settlements at Beta village near the West Bank City of Nablus. Photograph: Alaa Badarneh/EPA.

A Palestinian protester waves Palestine flag during clashes with Israeli troops after a protest against Israeli settlements at Beta village near the West Bank City of Nablus. Photograph: Alaa Badarneh/EPA.

 

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown councillors has passed a motion calling on the local authority to avoid purchasing goods or services produced by illegal settlers in occupied territories.

The motion, which comes after recent violence between Palestinians and Israel in Gaza, was passed with cross-party support during a council meeting on Monday. It called for any existing council contracts for goods or services provided by illegal settlers to be ceased as soon as allowed.

The motion did not name Israel, however, several councillors criticised illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories when speaking in favour of it.

Fine Gael councillor Jim O’Leary, who proposed the motion, said it had been “spurred on by the events” of recent weeks.

“This is a local issue because it speaks to the policies of the council,” he said.

The motion did not call for “a blanket ban” on trade between Israel and Ireland, but related only to the council’s own procurement policy, he said.

Legal quandary

Green Party Cllr Tom Kivlehan, who voted against the proposal, questioned whether it would put the council “in a legal quandary,” due to tendering rules.

The move by the local authority “will not bring one iota of help to try and bring this issue to a peaceful end,” he said.

Ireland was perceived as being “very anti-Israel,” and the motion spoke to “a certain narrative which doesn’t always look at the big picture,” he said.

The motion was passed with 32 votes in favour and one against, with three councillors abstaining.

Tom McHugh, council chief executive, said he had a “concern” over how the policy might affect its current procurement rules.

Mr McHugh said he had “no idea” what the implications of the policy change would be, but committed to return to councillors with a report on the matter.

“We will have to seek advice in relation to what the implications are. As it stands I cannot guarantee if the policy will be implemented,” he said.

Symbolic means

Green Party councillor Daniel Dunne said the council had “to use whatever symbolic means we have of sending a message of solidarity with the side that’s suffering most here.”

Denis O’Callaghan, a Labour Party councillor, said “strong action” needed to be taken by the council.

“What’s happening in the West Bank since 1967 bear in mind, is Palestinian families are still being moved from their homes and their farming lands are being seized,” he said.

Earlier at the meeting, Labour Party councillor Lettie McCarthy was elected as mayor of the council for the next year, replacing Green Party councillor Una Power.