Posts Tagged Belfast

Former Freedom & Friendship Delegate Daithi Mac Giolla Mhaoil Teaching in West Bank~FOLLOW UPDATES

Posted by on Friday, 7 June, 2013

Daithi as part of IFOP Delegation visiting destroyed school after Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza

Irish Friends of Palestine member Daithi Mac Giolla Mhaoil has just arrived in the West Bank. Supporters may remember Daithi who is a teacher in Belfast and part of our Educational Committee. He was recently in Gaza as part of our last delegation (pictured above in a bombed out school immediately after Operation Pillar of Defense) Today Daithi has just arrived in the the Fawwar Refugee camp near Hebron where he has taken up a teaching position there. He will be posting updates on our Facebook page and here on our website as he reports from the West Bank. We all wish David the best of luck in his new position and look forward to his updates from Occupied Palestine. Here is his first one:

Friends, comrades……..
Yesterday I arrived in Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron in the West Bank. Already the hospitality we have been shown by the Palestinian people who live in the camp has been second to none and we have already been to our first Palestinian wedding. It has also been a real shock, despite already witnessing what conditions Palestinians are forced to live in in Gaza, but also the cramped conditions with water shortages, power cuts and other basic needs shortages within Fawwar also as a result of the Israeli occupation here. Despite this the people are kind, optimistic and their generosity is second to none. Upon arriving in Tel Aviv on Thursday, four of our group, including myself were detained for a number of hours and asked very intrusive questions about what we were going to Palestine to do. It seems that there are those who would even wish to deny education to those who are already oppressed and suffering.
We managed to make it through the check points in Jerusalem and Hebron and are now settled in and ready to teach starting on Sunday.
Wish me luck!

To read David’s report from Gaza after Pillar of Defense, click HERE

Sponsor Daithi’s Run for Gaza (Larne Half Marathon)

Posted by on Saturday, 26 January, 2013


Daithi stands on rubble of bombed building in Gaza

Daithi stands on rubble of bombed building in Gaza

Daithi Mac Giolla Mhaoil was part of our recent delegation to Gaza which arrived November 2012 immediately after the most recent 8 day attack by Israel. The devastation was shocking, the death toll was incredible, so many women and children murdered. The Dalou fmaily lost 14 members and our delegation stood on the mound of rubble that was once their home. You can read Daithi’s reportback from Gaza HERE.

Daithi will be running the Larne half Marathon on March 23rd in aid of Irish Friends of Palestine LIGHT GAZA Campaign and he is seeking sponsors for any amount. A personal message from Daith below:

A cairde, I will be running the Larne Half Marathon on the 23rd of March in aid of IFOP Light Gaza Campaign. This will be to raise awareness of the Palestinian cause and the continuing injustices the Palestinian people suffer at the hands of the Israelis. Any money raised will go towards the Lights Campaign.
Go raibh maith agaibh



Primary school destroyed by Israel

Young boy inspects the damage

Young boy inspects the damage

Classrooms destroyed

Children inspect their former classroom




Ireland to Host ‘Palestine 1948’ Meeting with Former Prisoners

Posted by on Saturday, 12 January, 2013

A delegation coordinated by our Partners at UFree Network and the Irish Friends of Palestine, will host the ‘Palestine 1948’ Delegation in Derry and Belfast this weekend. The delegation has arrived in Ireland to attend meetings that will take place on Sunday and Monday. The delegation is expected to meet with politicians, media outlets and human rights organisations to discuss the release of Palestinians in ‘Palestine 1948’ from Israeli jails.

The delegation is comprised of two organisations from ‘Palestine 1948’ known as “Israeli Arabs” the Palestinians that live inside ‘Israel’. Delegates include Journalists, lawyers and Human Rights Activists from Meezn Centre for Human Rights and Yousef Al Sedeeq Institute for Prisoners Protection.

On Sunday, the delegation will visit Derry where they will meet the Sinn Fein Mayor of Derry, Mr Kevin Campbell who was a former Irish political prisoner; and then meet a number of organisations including Tar Abhaile (organisation of former prisoners) who will facilitate discussions with a group of former Irish Political Prisoners.

Meetings will continue on Monday in Belfast, with a discussion on the role of Coiste Na nIarchimi (the umbrella organisation for the Republican ex-prisoner network across Ireland) in assisting former prisoners. The delegates will also meet a number of former Irish political prisoners who are now elected political leaders. Later they will hold a discussion with former prisoner Jim Gibney to talk about the Irish Hunger Strike Campaign in 1981.

The delegation will then move on to London, where a number of meetings have been prepared with solidarity and activism organisations.

According to Khaled Waleed, UFree Network operations coordinator, the delegation’s tour will be a chance to look at the Irish experience in British jails. They also hope to learn some lessons in lobbying and mobilising to defend the rights of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails.

It is worth mentioning that ‘Israel’ is jailing 87 Palestinians from ‘Palestine 1948’. Those prisoners are exposed to torture and discrimination at the hands of ‘Israeli Prisoner Authorities’. Some of them have spent long periods in these jails while others are sentenced to several life sentences.

“Dying to Live” Palestinian Prisoners Conference Great Success

Posted by on Sunday, 20 May, 2012

"Dying to Live" Palestinian Prisoner Conference-Belfast

On 19th May, over 70 people from across Irish society attended the first Palestinian Prisoners Conference held in Ireland. Representatives from the Legal field, activist groups, political groups and members of the general public were in attendance. Irish Friends of Palestine, in conjunction with our partners at UFREE Palestinian Prisoners Organisation, hosted the conference at St Mary’s University College in Belfast. The conference focused on the condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and on the recent hungerstrike. This conference follows on the heels of the first International Palestinian Prisoners Conference in Gaza of which Irish Friends of Palestine participated in.

The event, the first of its kind, was organized by “UFree Network.” Ufree is an international organization that works to highlight the suffering of Palestinian political prisoners and to promote their rights internationally. The entire conference was filmed for broadcast in Palestine and the Arab world.

Mohammed Hamdan, the Chair of UFree, which is an independent European-wide human rights network; set up to defend the rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, along with UFree representative Khaled Almudallal both traveled to Ireland to attend and address the Irish participants. The Irish Conference follows UFree’s recent International Palestinain Prisoner Conference which was held inside Gaza for the first time. Irish Friends of Palestine was proud to have attended and participated in the Gaza conference in April.

Opening remarks of the conference were given by Sinead MacLochlainn the Founder of Irish Friends of Palestine, who outlined the days program and introduced Bik McFarlane the Key Note speaker.

Sinead MacLochlainn, Founder of Irish Friends of Palestine, outlines the conference program

Brendan “Bik” McFarlane is a former Irish political prisoner and he was the Officer Commanding in the Maze Prison during the 1981 Irish hunger strike in which 10 prisoners died, among them Bobby Sands. By 1993 Bik had become the longest serving prisoner in the H-Block Prison. He is now a member of Coiste na n-Iarchimí (“the Ex-Prisoners’ Committee”) – a welfare organisation for republican ex-prisoners. Bik recounted the 1981 Irish Hungerstrike related to the current hungerstrike inside Israeli jails.

Bik McFarlane discusses the hungerstrike

Chairing the discussion panel was Gerry MacLochlainn. Gerry is on the UFree political committee and is a former political prisoner himself, he is also co-founder of Irish Friends of Palestine. The fellow Irish panelists included former Political prisoner and hungerstriker, Mr Pat Sheehan who is now a Sinn Fein MLA. After Bobby Sands died on Hungerstrike Pat replaced him and remained on hungerstrike for 55 days, he was near death when the strike ended. Next we have author Danny Morrison, He is also the secretary of the Bobby Sands Trust and current chairman of Féile an Phobail.Next on the panel is Mary Nelis, a former MLA, mother of former hungerstriker. Mary organised the first community association in the Foyle Hill estate and helped spread community groups in other areas of the city of Derry. In 1976, she became active in the Relatives Action Committee: an organisation campaigning for prisoners’ rights and helped organise and lead the relatives committee during the 1981 hungerstrike. She was also active in the civil rights campaign. Mary was presented with the Paul O Dwyer Award by the IAUC for her work for peace and justice in Ireland, she is also an Irish Friends of Palestine supporter.

Panel: Danny Morrison, Nidal Abu Shikba, Mary Nelis, Mohammed Hamdan, Pat Sheehan MLA, Gerry MacLochlainn

The conference heard first hand about the plight and conditions of prisoners from panellist and former Palestinian prisoner Nidal Abu Shikba who traveled from the West Bank of Palestine to speak as part of the Panel.

Nidal Abu Shikba, former Palestinian Prisoner

We then went to our live link with Gaza where Ruairi McLaughlin introduced the Gaza Participants and handed over to our host in Gaza Mr Ahmed Al Najjar representing the Waed Palestinian Prisoners group in Gaza who spoke highly of the links between our two countries.

IFOP Member Ruairi McLaughlin initiates the live link with Gaza

Ahmed Abu Ayesh our Gazan host takes over link

He then introduced us to the next speaker Former Prisoner Ahmed Abu Taha who spoke live to the Irish audience from Gaza during a video conference. He delivered a rousing speech which saw the audience stomping, cheering and clapping! For those interested, you can read Abu Taha’s speech HERE.

Former Prisoner Ahmed Abu Taha speaking live from Gaza

Also from Gaza we heard a recorded video message from Former Prisoner Obada Bilal which you can view on THIS page.

Former Prisoner Obada Bilal from Gaza

We then heard from Pat Sheehan MLA and former hungerstriker. Pat’s personal and harrowing story of what it was like being on hungerstrike touched the hearts of everyone, it will never be forgotten.

Pat Sheehan MLA recounts his personal story of being on Hungerstrike while panel and audience listen  intently

Pat Sheehan MLA recounts his personal story of being on Hungerstrike while panel and audience listen intently

After each panel member spoke, the Chair then opened up the discussion to the audience participation section. Many members of the audience participated in the 45 minute Q & A session.

Gerry MacLochlainn Chairing the audience discussion

Cathal Og Donnelly participates in the audience discussions

Culminating from the successful conference, the panelists, consisting of former Palestinian and Irish political prisoners, demanded an end to Israel’s so-called “Administrative Detention” and the release of all Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Flowing from the conference we have issued a joint Declaration which we encourage support for throughout Ireland.

The following Declaration Statement was adopted between UFree and Irish Friends of Palestine:

Palestinian prisoners’ conference declaration statement


Organisers: UFree Network and Irish Friends of Palestine

Since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, more than 700,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel. This represents approximately 20% of the total population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and 40% of all males. Despite prohibition by international law, Israel detains Palestinians in prisons throughout Israel; far from their families. The latter almost never obtain the necessary permits to visit their imprisoned relatives.

Since 1967, Israel has detained 10,000 Palestinian women. Women prisoners endure inhumane conditions including shackling during childbirth and an ongoing lack of gynecological care. Today, 37 female Palestinian prisoners continue to be held in Israeli prisons. Most are elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and, thus, are clearly political prisoners.

This Conference on the Plight of Palestinian Prisoners in Israel Prisons was convened by UFree Network and Irish Friends of Palestine on 19th May 2012. We have gathered in Belfast uniting elected representatives, former prisoners and prisoners’ relatives and human rights activists

We heard speeches from former Prisoners and Palestinian human rights activists of the conditions facing Palestinians in Israeli jails.

We learned of

• The detention of Palestinians for more than 5 years without trial.
• The widespread use of solitary confinement for many years at a time
• The denial of family visits for many years on end
• The imprisonment of Palestinian children and on occasions the use of these child prisoners as hostages to pressurise their families.
• Threats and practice of sexual harassment.
• Abduction of elected Palestinian parliamentarians


Conference concludes that the conditions facing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails constitutes cruel and inhumane treatment and that such conditions breach numerous aspects of international law.

We pledge our support to UFree Network’s international campaign to highlight and challenge the abuse of Palestinian Prisoners human rights and the human rights of their families.

The conference decides to have a working group in cooperation between UFree Network and Irish Friends of Palestine which will be a broad based group in Ireland. From today, we shall be contacting potential members to join this group.

The group will work on the following:

1. To spread awareness about the issue of Palestinian prisoners
2. To exert political pressure on both the Israeli occupation and international governments.
3. To offer appropriate legal support and rehabilitation of former prisoners.

The group shall lobby Parliamentarians, human rights groups and civil society throughout Ireland, in particular to the Irish Government and other European Governments and the European Union, appealing for support for the following actions:

1. Israel should embrace and implement their obligations under International law by
2. Immediately implement the agreement reached with prisoners to end the hunger strike, including an end to solitary confinement and imprisonment without trial
3. The European governments and EU Parliament:
4. Launch and participate in an international solidarity campaign supporting the Rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees.
5. Establish a European fact-finding mission to examine the living conditions of the prisoners in the Israeli jails.

The Irish Government in particular should:

• Organise its own fact finding mission to visit prisoners and their families to inform itself of conditions in Israeli prisons.
• Report back to Dail Eireann on the outcome of this fact finding mission.
• Take diplomatic action and sanctions against the Israeli government if it fails to honour international conventions and comply with the human rights’ standards in dealing with the prisoners.


A working group has been established between UFree Network and Irish Friends of Palestine which will be a broad based group in Ireland. In the near future Irish Friends of Palestine will begin contacting and requesting potential group members within Ireland who can contribute to the Palestinian prisoner’s project.