Mike Murphy and Brian Kerr join public figures in criticising Bank of Ireland over closure of Palestine accounts
Broadcaster Mike Murphy and former Republic of Ireland football manager Brian Kerr were among 26 public figures who today published a letter criticising the Bank of Ireland over its closure of the accounts of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) in September, and calling for the reinstatement of the group’s banking facilities.
The letter, published in the Irish Times on 5th November, (UPDATE: and also the Irish Examiner on 8th November) is signed by 26 of Ireland’s leading public figures and civil society members including former Church of Ireland Archbishop Alan Harper, comedian Barry Murphy, authors Dervla Murphy and Margaretta D’Arcy, veteran civil rights activist Michael Farrell and fellow Council of State member Ruairí McKiernan, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commissioner Betty Purcell, renowned artists Robert Ballagh, Felim Egan and Jim Fitzpatrick, and Mark Cumming, the head of Comhlámh. See here for the full text and list of signatories.
The letter states that the signatories are “shocked and appalled by Bank of Ireland’s unilateral closure of the accounts of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC)” and notes that the Bank “has thus far refused to offer any reason for the closure, other than to say that the IPSC – which has banked with BOI for 15 years – no longer meets the Bank’s ‘risk appetite’.”
The signatories say that they “believe that practical solidarity and civil society activism are essential to the defence of human rights, at home and abroad” and that “the Bank’s action regretfully appears in the context of an aggressive international campaign to silence groups that advocate for Palestinian rights.” The letter also highlight the fact that the Bank’s decision has far wider implications, pointing out that “one of Ireland’s largest financial institutions demonstrat[ing] such contempt for human rights activism is a matter of great concern to all.”
In conclusion, the letter calls “upon the Bank of Ireland to immediately re-instate these accounts, and to apologise for undermining the viability of a well-established and widely respected civil society organisation” with the signatories vowing to “continue to support the work of the IPSC in highlighting injustices and helping to secure freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people.”
Thanking those who signed the letter, IPSC Chairperson Fatin Al Tamimi, herself a Palestinian exile and citizen of Ireland, said that “this letter is a significant display of solidarity with those of us in the IPSC who have been campaigning on the Palestinian issue for a decade and a half, and, more importantly, with the Palestinian people themselves who continue to fight for their inalienable rights.”
Noting that the Bank of Ireland’s action “appears to be part of a campaign orchestrated by the Israeli government to silence organisations which support the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign which aims to pressure Israel until it ends its occupation of Palestine and adheres fully to international law ensuring freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people”, Ms. Tamimi said that “the Bank’s action shows the BDS movement is having an effect in putting pressure on Israel to ensure Palestinian rights. If the old saying that ‘first they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win’ rings true, then we are certainly at the ‘then they fight you’ stage. The global BDS movement for justice for Palestinians has come a long way in just over a decade, and we in the IPSC are proud to have played a role in its growth.”
Full text of letter of list of signatories
Sir, – We are shocked and appalled by Bank of Ireland’s unilateral closure of the accounts of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), a volunteer-run group advocating for Palestinian human rights as enshrined in international law, and a legally constituted, fully audited, transparent organisation. Despite the IPSC providing the Bank with all information requested, the Bank proceeded to shut down the IPSC accounts. The Bank has thus far refused to offer any reason for the closure, other than to say that the IPSC — which has banked with BOI for 15 years — no longer meets the Bank’s ‘risk appetite’.
We believe that practical solidarity and civil society activism are essential to the defence of human rights, at home and abroad. The Bank’s action regretfully appears in the context of an aggressive international campaign to silence groups that advocate for Palestinian rights. We concur with our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, who said of this case that he “would be disappointed if a civil society organisation in this country, engaging in lawful activities, was unable to function” because of the unwarranted closure of its accounts. That one of Ireland’s largest financial institutions demonstrates such contempt for human rights activism is a matter of great concern to all.
We call upon the Bank of Ireland to immediately re-instate these accounts, and to apologise for undermining the viability of a well-established and widely respected civil society organisation. We will continue to support the work of the IPSC in highlighting injustices and helping to secure freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people.
MIKE MURPHY, broadcaster;
Rt Revd AET HARPER OBE, FRGS, former archbishop,
BRIAN KERR, former Ireland football manager,
BARRY MURPHY, comedian,
DERVLA MURPHY, author,
MICHAEL FARRELL, solicitor,
BETTY PURCELL, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commissioner,
ROBERT BALLAGH, artist,
MARK CUMMING, Head of Comhlámh,
RUAIRÍ McKIERNAN, founder of SpunOut, Council of State member,
HONOR HEFFERNAN, singer and actress,
JIM FITZPATRICK, artist,
DONAL LUNNY, musician & producer
Rev Canon Prof PATRICK COMERFORD, President, Irish CND
STEVE WALL, musician & actor
TIMMY HAMMERSLEY, hurler
SEAMUS DEANE, author and poet
MARGARETTA D’ARCY, author
RAYMOND DEANE, composer
FELIM EGAN, artist
DONAL O’KELLY, actor & writer
PATRICIA McKEOWN, UNISON regional secretary
RONIT LENTIN, Irish-Israeli academic
LIAM G KILGALLEN, former Chair of Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement
Shaykh Dr MUHAMMAD UMAR AL-QADRI, CEO of Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council
JO BIRD, Chair of Jewish Voice for a Just Peace Ireland
(Added since original submission)
KATE THOMPSON, author & actress
Dr JO MUPRHY-LAWLESS, academic