"Tony would want us all to be mindful of the Palestinian victims of the brutal Israeli aggression . . . in Gaza."
The words of Tony Gregory's brother Noel set the tone for an amazing send-off of the TD whose office was across the corridor from mine in Leinster House. Liam Ó Maonlaí underlined Noel's words with music in St. Agatha's Church. Fr.Peter McVerry paid eloquent tribute to a fellow-campaigner, and Cllr Maureen O'Sullivan spoke passionately about Tony's many and varied interests in life.
Tony was not a man to suffer fools gladly, unlike so many of those who have occupied a Dáil seat, and I'll miss the sound of his voice in the Dáil chamber, and from the office across the way.
He understood the system backwards, and as the leader of the technical group in the Dáil (which include the Greens) for the five years between 2002 and 2007 he ensured that all of its members were well represented.
Meanwhile in Gaza the murder continues. There is evil on all sides, but the murder and bloodshed of the Israeli army over the last two weeks beggars belief. Any sense of proportion from the Israeli Government has been thrown out the window, and this is like shooting fish in a barrel; it is a bloodbath. Withdrawing the credentials of the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland has been suggested, but perhaps sanctions against the State of Israel would send out a clearer message that would hurt economically.
The timing of the Green Party's members' conference and Green Economics Seminar in Liberty Hall clashed with the Palestine March in Dublin last Saturday, but I headed out early from our meeting, with some colleagues from Northern Ireland to join the start of the march outside the Central Bank. We spoke as we walked up the Quays, and agreed that the actions of the Israelis were akin to the British Army reacting to IRA attacks by taking it upon themselves to bomb all nationalist areas back into the Stone Age. The timing is so cynical, in the interregnum before Obama takes office, and in the midst of an election campaign in Israel.
Reuters reported last Friday that the US was hiring a ship to bring hundreds of tonnes of arms and ammunition to Israel from Greece, including bunker busting bombs that can blast through eight metres of reinforced concrete. The figures speak for themselves: this evening the BBC reports 910 killed in Gaza including 292 children. Israel says 13 of their citizens have been killed.
Joe Sacco's graphic novel Palestine from the early 1990s paints a vivid picture of everyday life for ordinary Palestinians. Not much changed in the years leading up to the current conflic . His perspective is miles apart from the New York Times's reporting of the conflict, and illustrates the huge difficulties that ordinary Palestinians face. Of course the appalling actions of Hamas have also led to the loss of innocent lives, and deserve condemnation, but the disproportionate response from Israel is murderous and cannot be justified.
Hopefully Tony Blair's efforts can help bring all sides to agreeing a new cease-fire, but in the meantime some form of sanctions against Israel is required.