Report on Women’s Day by the Chair, Sinead MacLochlainn:
8th of March was International Womens day around the world. Here in Ireland, I attended the Belfast march and events organised by UNISON and attended by other Irish Trade Unions. My friend Mags O’Brien of SIPTU travelled up from Dublin representing the Trade Union Friends of Palestine; and together we participated in the day’s events.
The event opened with a speech from the Mayor of Belfast, Sinn Fein’s Niall O Donnghaile
Followed by speeches and a women’s choir
After the parade and speeches at City Hall, we then made our way to the UNISON headquarters where everyone was treated to lunch, music and a few talks on issues effecting women.
For myself and Mags, the subject of Palestine is never far from our thoughts. Both of us worked for almost 2 years together on the Irish Ship to Gaza Campaign, and we both share a deep love for the Palestinian people. But today was about women, it was International Women’s day, and so our thoughts naturally turned to the women of Gaza, Palestine, who are forced to live in harsh conditions under a brutal siege with the constant threat of bombings and death.
Mags spoke about her ordeal on the Irish Ship to Gaza when it attempted to break the siege in October. She told the story of being boarded, arrested and jailed by the Zionist soldiers who almost sunk our boat during their very dangerous attack of our ship.
Back here at home, the women of Ireland had decided to show their solidarity with the women in Gaza, and so on International Women’s Day I was presented with the most beautiful quilt made by Irish woman which I have been asked to present to the “Women’s Affairs Center” in Gaza on behalf of Irish Women. The quilt has a quote from former Irish President Mary Robinson and Lakhdar Brahimi.
“We call for the immediate and complete lifting of the blockade on Gaza. The ongoing siege is a denial of dignity; it is a denial of rights for a people, particularly its women, who yearn to be Free!”
The quilt will be delivered to the Gaza Women’s Affairs Center during the Freedom and Friendship Irish Delegation to Gaza which leaves Ireland on the 28th of March and we look to set up links between women’s groups in Gaza and women in Ireland.
We will also be meeting with a new NGO called Ethar which was set up by women, for women, in Khan Yunis. One of the founders of Ethar is a personal friend of mine and so Ethar is very much a labour of love created by local women in Khan Yunis who have managed to accomplish some amazing things in Ethar’s first year! Then later this summer a group of Irish women will travel to Gaza and visit Ethar to teach the art of crochet to women in Gaza who have no work or income, the Gazan women will then teach the art of traditonal Palestinain embroidery to the Irish women in a cultural exchange. The women who attend Ethar group hope they will then be able to make warm winter items for their own children, and they also want to set up a co-op where they can sell their crochet and hand made items. We will be assiting them with this venture, and we need your help, so donate!! and check back this summer!
Please donate for the delegation below.
BY BANK TRANSFER or CHEQUE
Derry Friends of Palestine
Bank of Ireland
Sort Code 90 49 74
Strand Road, Derry