Irish town tears Israeli Ambassador’s page from guest book

Evrony says he has visited more than 30 towns and cities in Ireland since his arrival in summer 2006, and has always been received with “typically warm Irish hospitality and friendship.”

Israel’s envoy to Ireland, Zion Evrony, took in stride Monday a decision by a small Irish market town called Carrickmacross to tear out of its town hall’s guest book a page he signed during a protest-marred visit there in late January.
Evrony said he has visited more than 30 towns and cities in Ireland since his arrival in summer 2006, and has always been received with “typically warm Irish hospitality and friendship.”
“The incident in Carrickmacross town hall is a rare exception, initiated by a publicity-seeking Sinn Fein town councilor,” he said. “Sinn Fein is recognized as the political wing of the IRA. It is a small, extremist political party, known for its prejudiced views against Israel.”
The Irish Sunday Independent reported that the town councilors in Carrickmacross voted five-to-four about 10 days ago to tear out the page in the guest book signed by Evrony on January 29, and to write “to the Israeli Embassy stating that any further visit will not be welcome.”
Evrony, for his part, said he would continue “to travel everywhere in Ireland to promote trade and tourism, and to create a better understanding of Israel’s reality.”
Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin issued a statement condemning the move, saying that while “I fully understand and share the deep concerns which many people in Ireland feel in regard to Israel’s policies on a number of issues, including the settlements of east Jerusalem and the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza, as well as the allegations of the use of forged Irish passports by Israeli agents,” foreign envoys must be treated with respect.
“It is a basic principle of relations between states that we treat each other’s diplomatic representatives with civility and respect, regardless of any policy differences. To do otherwise would seriously undermine the ability of states to conduct international relations,” he said.
“Ambassadors represent not just their governments but their peoples. In turn, the way that foreign ambassadors are welcomed and received in Ireland says something about us as a people,” he said.
When Evrony went to the town in Ulster Province he was met by some 20 protesters, among them Sinn Fein activists and a Sinn Fein councilor, who tried to physically bar his entry into the town hall to meet the mayor. They shouted abusive comments, said he was unwelcome and demanded that he leave the town. Evrony was only able to enter the building after the police intervened.
One of the protesters, Sinn Fein councilor Matt Carthy, called on the organization’s Web site for Carrickmacross Mayor Kerr Colon to “apologize” for inviting Evrony to town, and said she should “be ashamed of herself for hosting a civic reception for someone who simply wasn’t welcome in Carrickmacross.”
Carthy and fellow Sinn Fein party member Noel Keelan voted in favor of ripping out the page, along with Green Party councilors Catherine Martin and Kristina Jankaitiene and Padraig McNally of the Fianna Fáil party.
Another Fianna Fáil member, PJ O’Hanlon, and the three Fine Gael party members voted against.
Relaying the turn of events leading to the vote in his blog, Carthysaid, “to allow the page to remain in our visitors book would, Ibelieve, forever sully the name and reputation of the council I amproud to have been a member of since 1999.”
After the motion passed, Carthy said, “Carrickmacross Town Council hasredeemed itself and the Israeli ambassador’s PR stunat has backfired.Zion Evrony has got his answer from our little town in South CountyMonaghan.”
Recalling the lead up to the visit, Carthy said he had called on themayor to cancel it. When she refused, he organized a protest withfellow party members and councilors, family and friends responding tothe call.
According to a report on the protest on the council’s Web site, Carthy told Evrony to get back in his car and “return home.”
“Mr. Ambassador, you are not welcome here,” Carthy shouted. “Yourepresent a rogue government and this visit is unacceptable in my view.
“What your government has been responsible for in Gaza and in the restof the Palestinian territory has been completely unacceptable,” Carthyadded.
The report said that Carthy’s “verbal protest” continued when theambassador posed for photographs with the mayor and police tried torestrain him.
Following the visit the Israeli Embassy issued a response asking whythe Sinn Fein members were not interested in dialogue with theambassador.
“Like Israel, Ireland is a free country and a democratic state.Therefore, everyone has a right to protest. However, the protesters aremisinformed about Israel and they were not interested in dialogue withthe ambassador, unlike other members of Sinn Fein who have engaged indialogue with the ambassador in the past.
“The purpose of the ambassador’s visit was to correct misperceptionsthat some people have about Israel, to clarify that Israel is doing allit can to achieve peace with the Palestinians and that it is eager fornegotiations that will lead to a peace settlement involving two statesfor two peoples,” the embassy said.
The incident has increased friction in an already strained relationshipbetween Jerusalem and Dublin, following allegations that three fakeIrish passports were used in the January assassination of Hamascommander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dublin.
Martin called in Evrony last week for “clarifications” about the matter.