Category Archives: Ireland

Irish Trade Union Open Letter to German Union in Support of Teacher Christoph Glanz


Campaigning in solidarity with the Palestinian people

Secretary: Eamon McMahon


To our trade union colleagues,

We the undersigned, members of the Irish trade union movement, write to express our solidarity with teacher, GEW (Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft) member and activist Mr. Christoph Glanz. We are dismayed by GEW’s decision not to disseminate the “PaedOl” magazine due to it containing an article on Palestine/Israel by Mr. Glanz titled: “Documenting Injustice and Claiming Justice – Impossible in Oldenburg?”

It appears that this censorship came as a result of pressure from the Israeli lobby. We are concerned that giving in to such pressure supports the undermining of basic trade union rights, and that if not challenged it could reinforce the belief of outside bodies and vested interest groups that they can bring about the suppression of our democratic rights. This includes the right to express solidarity with oppressed workers in any state or in any region of the world.

We are further concerned by the public statements made by the GEW suggesting that it may have been “anti-Semitic” or “a mistake” to present information about Israel’s oppressive policies against Palestinians and the BDS movement, and hence it was necessary to block the dissemination of the magazine. Such misrepresentations prevent an informed debate presenting the realities under which the Palestinian people live from taking place.

Individuals, trade unions and civil society groups have the right under international law to organise, the right to protest and the right to free speech. It is a matter of profound concern when any progressive organisation bows to pressure from the lobby groups of those perpetrating the very human rights abuses that people of conscience like Mr. Glanz and many others are campaigning against. In the process, unintentionally or otherwise, this undermines the fundamental rights and principles of the trade union movement and international solidarity.

This incident is one in a long line of anti democratic attacks in Germany and across the world on individuals and groups who speak out for Palestine and more specifically on those who support the legitimate, non violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign. The governments of Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands, as well as Federica Mogherini the EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, have already explicitly clarified that they consider advocacy for BDS to be part of the right of their citizens to freedom of expression.

We have learned that German unions, including the GEW, welcomed and actively promoted the boycott of apartheid in South Africa in the late 1970s and 1980s. It would seem an opportune moment therefore, acting in the spirit of international solidarity, for the leadership of the GEW in Oldenburg and elsewhere to lead an informed discussion with its members about the aims and merits of the BDS movement.

We ask the GEW to stand by the principles of the labour movement, in defence of freedom of speech and expression, and that it reconsiders the decision not to publish this article. We call upon it to publicly defend its own member, Mr. Glanz, against false allegations of anti-Semitism, This must be undertaken in the first instance to defend Mr Glanz, but also in order to prevent a very dangerous precedent being set and to protect the rights of all GEW members and others who wish to peacefully protest human rights abuses wherever those abuses occur.

We ask that the GEW, and also the school authorities (”Niedersächsische Landesschulbehörde”), their spokespersons, relevant politicians and other decision-makers take all steps necessary to defend these basic democratic rights.


Eamon McMahon, Secretary TUFP

Kevin Daly, Ass. Secretary and Teachers’ Representative, TUFP; INTO Northern Committee (PC); Secretary to Newry Trades Council (PC)

Peter Collins, Treasurer TUFP; Academics for Palestine; UCU (PC)

Paddy Mackel, President Belfast Trades Council

Roger Clifford, President Craigavon Trades Council

Susan Neil, UNISON (PC)

Tommy McGlone, INTO Senior Official (PC)

Paul Boyd, Secretary INTO Down Branch (PC)

Jim McLaughlin, INTO (PC)

Mark McTaggart, INTO Assistant Northern Secretary, (PC)

Annmarie Conway, INTO Northern Committee (PC)

Aine-Maire Ui-Neill, Secretary Belfast Branch INTO (PC)

Jim Magee, INTO Newry Branch, Honorary Member (PC)

Donna Daly, INTO (PC)

Seamus Hanna, Chair INTO Northern Committee (PC)

David Nolan, Vice Chair Newry Branch INTO (PC)

Caoimhin MacColaim, INTO Northern Committee (PC)

Gregor Kerr, Dublin North City branch INTO (PC)

Caoimhin MacColaim, INTO (PC)

Christine McDonnell, Unite (PC)

John Douglas, General Secretary MANDATE

John Kelly, INTO Northern Committee (PC)

Noreen Kelly, Secretary Newry Branch INTO (PC)

Fionnualla Hughes, INTO Newry Branch Committee (PC)

Declan McReynolds, Vice-Chair Armagh Branch INTO (PC)

John O’Brien, INTO (PC); ICTU Global Solidarity Committee (PC)

Paul Woods, Chair of Belfast West branch, INTO (PC)

Caroline McCarthy, INTO Northern Committee (PC)

Fiona Maguire, Vice-Chairperson Newry Trades Council (PC); Vice-Chairperson, NIPSA Branch 733 (PC)

Oliver Short, Chair of Newry Branch INTO (PC)

Ruairí Creaney, Organiser Communications Workers’ Union Ireland

Siobhan Mc Laughlin, Secretary of Dungannon Branch INTO (PC)

Elaine Daly, SIPTU member (PC)

Derry City Trades Union Council (DTUC)

Daisy Mules INTO (PC); Treasurer DTUC

Natalie Fleming, Communication Workers’ Union; Secretary DTUC

Liam Gallagher, UNITE; Chair DTUC

Marguerite Faloona, UNISON (PC)

Catherine Hutton, UNISON (PC)

Zoe Lawlor, Unite (PC)

Niall Mc Carroll, UNISON (PC)

Shaun Harkin, UNISON (PC)

Becca Bor, UNISON (PC)

Damien Condren, UNISON (PC)

Gary Mc Clean, UNISON (PC)

Carly Johnston, UNISON (PC)

Ruaidhri Galligan, UNISON (PC)

Emma Devine, UNISON (PC)

Fearghal Duffy, UNISON (PC)

Sinead Millar, UNISON (PC)

Caroline Gillespie, UNISON (PC)

Barry Donaghy, UNISON (PC)

Viv Brady, UNISON (PC)

Sinead Hannigan, UNISON (PC)

Peter Robinson, UNISON (PC)

Kathleen Bradley, UNISON (PC)

Pauline Lagan, UNISON (PC)

Anna Roe, UNISON (PC)

Chelsea Duffy, UNISON (PC)

Bernadette Doherty, UNISON (PC)

Conall Ó Dufaigh, Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (PC)

Martin O’Quigley, IMPACT (PC)

Kevin Squires, Unite (PC); National Coordinator, Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign

This letter has also been endorsed formally by:

Academics for Palestine, Ireland

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
(Note: INTO is the Irish National Teachers’ Association; PC indicates in a private capacity)

Congress Report Calls for Israeli Boycott Campaign (ICTU)


Congress Report Calls for Israeli Boycott Campaign
18 Jun 2008

Cover image for Report of Delegation visit to Israel & Palestine
Congress today (June 18) formally launched the report of a senior union delegation visit to Israel and Palestine which recommends support and promotion for a “boycott campaign of Israeli goods and services and a policy of disinvestment from Israeli companies.”

The Congress delegation report recommends (full list below) that this course of action be pursued in order to encourage Israeli compliance with International Law and to cease its violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people.

The Congress report also calls for the Irish government to initiate change at EU level, with regard to policy on Israel and Palestine.

The delegation visit (in November 2007) comprised senior Congress officials and was led by the current President of Congress, Patricia McKeown. The delegation visited Israel, the West Bank and Gaza and met with trade unionists, human rights activists and senior politicians.

The visit followed the unanimous adoption by Congress, in July 2007, of two motions that specifically called for a boycott and a campaign of disinvestment.

The report also recommends that Congress raise these issues at senior levels in the Irish government and at a European level, in order to build support for a campaign.

It also calls for Irish government assistance for building civic capacity in both Palestine and Israel, with regard to conflict resolution, along with investment in the Palestinian economy.

1. That the report is presented to the Executive Council and is published as a Congress document for widespread distribution throughout the Irish, European and International Trade Union Movement.

2. The Executive Council should meet with the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs to discuss the findings of the delegation and the content of the two resolutions carried at BDC 2007. The objective purpose of these meetings is:
– to request the Irish government to initiate policy change on Palestine, at EU level with regard to the illegal actions of the Israeli Government;

– to request the Irish government to oppose the withholding of EU funding for the Palestinian Authority and to call for the end of the preferential trading status afforded Israel under the Euro/ Mediterranean Agreement.

3. The Executive Council should meet with the Minister for Foreign Affairs to discuss the financing of specific programmes for the Palestinian people. These should include:

– building capacity in civic society including conflict resolution both intra and inter Palestinian and Israeli society;

– encourage and provide expertise for Irish investment in the Palestinian economy;

– for development of the Equality Agenda and a Rights Based Approach to the political and civic institutions in Palestine;

– the provision of expertise from Ireland in building social partnership between the various pillars in both Israel and Palestine.

4. Following on from the distribution of the report a further meeting to be held with our sister confederations in GB with the objective of a Council of the Isles campaign on behalf of the Palestinian people.

5. Through ICTU membership of the ETUC and the ITUC to raise the plight of the Palestinian people with particular emphasis on building solidarity with the PGFTU.

6. To engage with the Israeli labour movement and the Israeli government to discuss the above policies and to lobby for a change of policy focus, from the primacy of security to the primacy of a political resolution.

7. To encourage other trade union delegations to visit the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel.

8. That ICTU pursue active engagement and collaborative working with Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups and other civic society organisations as necessary.

9. To support and promote a boycott campaign of Israeli goods and services and a policy of disinvestment from Israeli companies as a means of encouraging the Israeli government to comply with International Law and to cease the human rights violations of the Palestinian people.

10. That ICTU hosts a high level conference with international speakers, to develop trade union solidarity.
View text of the full report here.



Passed at ICTU biennial conference, Friday 6 July 2007


This ICTU Biennial Conference is outraged at the continued human
rights abuses being suffered by the Palestinian people. We
particularly note the following:

* the continued occupation and destruction of Palestinian lands
and Palestinian homes in breach of the Geneva Convention and numerous
United Nations resolutions

* the continuation of mass arrests, of torture and of
extra-judicial killings

* the horrific assaults on the population of Gaza ‘ the frequent
killings of civilians including on a mass scale as at Beit Hanun, or
the family of Houda Galia wiped out as they sat on the beach; the
enclosure of the people of Gaza with razor wire and electrified
fences, where they are subjected to frequent invasion and constant
surveillance ‘ including the sinister unmanned drones targeting for
bombing raids, or the over-flights of ear-shattering jet fighters.

* the deliberate and illegal destruction of civilian
infra-structure including electricity and water supplies

* the imposition of collective punishment, banned under
international law, including the bulldozing of houses, the uprooting
of ancient olive groves and destruction of industrial unit

* the policy of ethnic cleansing designed to make life unbearable
for all Palestinians under both Israeli and Palestinian authority –
the on-going in-depth surveillance and control of the population
including the forced division of families, and restrictions on free
movement to deny them access to work, to education and to health-care
‘ even in emergency situations such as child-birth

* the enforced bankruptcy of the Palestinian Authority and the
impoverishment of the Palestinian People by the withholding of tax
revenues [ value? ]; the impositions on the free movement of finance;
the blocking of Palestinian exports and the blocking of international
support and grant aid

* the continued building of the Apartheid Wall in defiance of the
ruling of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, creating a
series of ‘bantustans’ in the West Bank, fracturing families and
communities, depriving Palestinians of their most productive land and
water supplies and effectively annexing East Jerusalem into Israeli

* the continued building of illegal Israeli settlements in the
West Bank, with the associated oppressive policing of the local
population, the demolishing of Palestinian homes, the theft of land
and water and the disruption of Palestinian infra-structure

Conference also notes that the British and Irish Governments and the
European Union have failed in their obligations under International
Law – in terms of the Geneva Convention, the UN and the International
Court ‘ to challenge the activities of the Israeli government. A
reasonable response would be the imposition of political and economic
sanctions. Instead it is the Palestinians who have been punished by
the withholding of grant aid, whilst the criminal actions of the
Israeli state are further appeased by continuing to grant them
preferential trading rights under Article 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean
Association Agreement. Conference notes that the European Union is
formally obligated under the human rights clause in Article 2 to
suspend the trading privileges enjoyed by Israel if it is in breach of
human rights. The litany of human rights abuses, atrocities and war
crimes should long ago have led to the ending of the agreement ‘
indeed the European Parliament has already on two separate occasions
called on the Council of Ministers to take this action.

In pursuance of ICTU policy to campaign in solidarity with the
Palestinian people, and in recognition of the depths of oppression
being suffered by them, conference authorizes the executive of ICTU to
undertake the following:

A] That the ICTU make direct representations to the European Council
of Ministers to challenge the withholding of EU funding, and
addressing the fact that the EU has failed in its obligations under
international law to oppose the actions of Israel. ICTU also demands
the ending of the preferential trading status enjoyed by Israel under
the Euro-Med. Agreement.

B] That the ICTU could seek a meeting with the Minister for Foreign
Affairs and the Irish EU Commissioner to express our grave concerns
about these issues, specifically to address the illegality of the
Israeli actions, and to call for an appropriate and effective

C] That the representatives of ICTU raise these issues at the European
TUC, and call upon concerted EU-wide trade union solidarity action to
protest at the indifference of EU governments, at the failure of the
strategy of ‘constructive engagement’ with the state of Israel, and at
what is effectively the appeasement of the Israeli aggression and
territorial expansionism.

D] To actively and vigorously promote a policy of divestment from
Israeli companies recognising that it is one of the most effective
ways to ensure that the Israeli government is made aware of the extent
of opposition to its crimes against humanity. ICTU will encourage
affiliates to apply a policy of ethical investment in terms of pension
fund holdings, and seek to ensure that investments are therefore
withdrawn from Israeli companies as well as companies such as
Catepillar and Irish Cement Roadholdings that directly support the
Israeli occupation and destruction of Palestinian land. Affiliates
will also be encouraged to use whatever influence they can bring to
bear on employers in both the private and state sector to apply such a
policy of ethical investment.

E] To actively and vigorously promote a boycott of Israeli goods and
services similar to the boycott of South African goods during the era
of apartheid. ICTU will proactively support such a boycott policy by
working with affiliates on a programme of educational activities, by a
media campaign and by working alongside human rights and humanitarian
relief organisations.

F] That the solidarity links between the Irish, Palestinian and
Israeli labour movements be strengthened by a delegation of senior
trade union leaders to the occupied areas. ICTU will also invite
Palestinian trade union representatives to visit Ireland to encourage
greater awareness of the situation in Palestine today, and to support
the call for divestment, boycott and sanctions.

G] That the implementation of ICTU policy be further strengthened by
the formation of Trade Union Friends of Palestine groups in the
Republic of Ireland to work alongside TUFP in Northern Ireland. That
ICTU hosts a TUFP conference, with invited international speakers, to
further develop trade union solidarity action.