Wednesday 3 May marks World Press Freedom Day, just over a year after the extra-judicial killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israeli military.
Today, May 3rd, MEP for Ireland South Grace O’Sullivan called for towns across Ireland to establish twinning links with towns in Palestine as a mark of solidarity with the Occupied Territories, where journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed one year ago by the Israeli military.
The call comes as Cork City Council considers a motion from Cork City North East Councillor Oliver Moran to build networks with a city in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
MEP O’Sullivan had led the campaign in the European Parliament last year for the EU to step in and back an independent investigation into the murder of the Palestinian journalist. She had sharply criticised the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen’s decision to sign a multi-million euro gas deal with Israel not long after Shireen’s murder.
“Press freedom is increasingly under attack all over the world. In Ireland it comes in the form of trivial legal suits brought by powerful individuals with deep pockets. In many countries, being a journalist is one of the most dangerous jobs to undertake. We must stand up for press freedom while we have the voice to do it with,” said MEP Grace O’Sullivan from Brussels today. She will be part of a commemoration for Shireen Abu Akleh which will take place in the European Parliament on the 11th May with MEPs and the journalist’s colleagues.
O’Sullivan added: “Twinning is a simple but important act of solidarity that can also bring lasting personal and commercial links between distant countries. Some of the Palestinian towns we could twin with live under the constant threat of demolition by Israel, and twinning could help bring international attention to their cause.”
Towns like Tralee have already twinned with the Palestinian town of Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem. Waterford City is currently in the process of twinning with the administrative capital of Palestine, Ramallah.
O’Sullivan’s Cork Constituency Office will also host a commemorative event on the anniversary of the death of Abu Akleh, next Thursday 11th May at 7:30pm. Members of the public are invited to attend a screening of the Al Jazeera documentary about her murder, and hear from Palestinian and Irish voices about cooperation, solidarity and the path forward.