I had planned to be in the town for a soccer fixture between Sligo Rovers and Drogheda United, but arranged with my friend Alfie Gallagher to first attend the rally. It just seems to be an ethical imperative to turn out for these events when the opportunity arises. Not always possible as life still has to go on but . . .
As we approached the gathering outside the town's main post office my first thoughts were that only a smattering of people had turned up. However, that notion was quickly dispelled as the crowd began to swell quite rapidly.
The event, like a previous one I attended in Drogheda, seemed to be organised by Sinn Fein. The party's MEP, Chris McManus, was one of the speakers as was Sligo mayor, Declan Bree, along with a councillor from People Before Profit, a member of a Palestine solidarity group and a Palestinian doctor who has a mother and siblings in Gaza but whom he had lost contact with due to the Israeli black out. There was very little said by any of the speakers that jarred with me. All were justifiably strident in their criticism of the terror state and the war criminal Baby Killer Netanyahu, the Heydrich of Gaza.
The one note of discord came when one of the people fronting the protest began venting dismay at a placard being carried which stated 'stop the killing on both sides.' As stopping all the killing seemed a good idea, the point being made by this one organiser that we were assembled to support the Palestinians and the placard therefore seemed inappropriate had no purchase on me. Sure, I understand the anger and get that there is no symmetry in this conflict, but to object to the presence of anyone wanting all killing to end, seemed misplaced and counterintuitive.
The Israeli murder machine specialises in infanticide. Latest figures suggest that of the ten thousand Palestinians murdered by Israeli Einsatzgruppen in the past three weeks, three and half thousand are children. It is said that the parents in Gaza write their names on their children's skin so that in the event of them being murdered by the Slaughter Squads, they will at least be identified. Unimaginable parental anguish.
For Hitler, the architect of the Shoah, his most vile achievement has been to mould the Israeli state in his own image.
I continue to feel that these rallies are an essential part of trying to maximise cumulative pressure on Western governments to isolate those responsible for Nazi-like atrocity in Gaza. At the Sligo rally demands were made for the Israeli ambassador to Ireland to be expelled. Which makes it all the more disappointing to find that Sinn Fein in Belfast City Hall made the wrong call when a motion was proposed seeking the ambassador's marching orders.
We don't believe we're there yet, we're not opposed to it, we are not opposed to the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador but we believe the focus now should be on a ceasefire and humanitarian aid. That's what people in Gaza want. There's people lying in rubble now that don't care about the expulsion of ambassadors, they just want the war to stop.
Sinn Fein speakers have been heckled at rallies because the party's reps are viewed as trying to play it both ways. While Sinn Fein's demand for an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian aid is most welcome it would have been a simple matter for the party to have put its shoulder to the wheel and steamroll over any attempt by the ambassador to remain in Ireland. Instead the party has allowed the message to be trumpeted to the world that when a call went up for the terror state's ambassador to be expelled from this country the response was Belfast says no.