DesertPeace had the honour to conduct an exclusive interview with Gerry McLochlainn this morning. Gerry is on the National Committee of the Irish Ship To Gaza. More info can be found HERE.
The interview follows….


Gerry MacLochlainn  is a Sinn Fein Councillor in Derry. Active in the Irish Civil Rights campaign, Gerry took part in the Burntollet Civil Rights march which was brutally attacked. Gerry is a former Maths teacher, he studied philosophy and maths at University College Wales, Aberystwyth. He is a former Irish Political Prisoner in England. On his release he headed up the Sinn Fein office in London and was active in the struggle to release of the Guildford 4. In 2009, Gerry led the 2nd convoy into Gaza after the invasion and he co-founded Derry Friends of Palestine. During operation Cast Lead he persuaded Derry City Council to support a boycott of Israeli goods until Israel withdraws from the occupied territories. Derry was the first city in Ireland to pass such a motion. He returned to Gaza again to bring the Mayor of Derry to meet with the Mayor of Khan Younis to begin a twinning process between the two cities. Gerry was a keynote speaker in Geneva at the first International Conference in support of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli Jails, organised by U-Free. He is a member of the International Steering Committee of Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human and a member of the Irish Ship to Gaza national committee.


DesertPeace: According to the inroduction, I believe this will be your third trip to Gaza. After the brutal attack by the Israeli navy on the Mavi Marmara a year ago, are you in any way concerned for your personal safety this time?


Gerry MacLochlainn: I have to be honest and yes – I am concerned and I think I would foolish if I were not. The shocking slaughter of unarmed people aboard the Mavi Marmara made it clear that Israel is prepared to cross any line to protect its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and blockade of Gaza. If you oppose, even peacefully as we are doing, Israeli policy in Palestine and against Palestinians you are fair game as far as the IDF is concerned.

But no matter how concerned I am – I have to do what is right. The governments of the world should be leading our flotilla into Gaza but they stand idly by. It falls to us then the ordinary citizens of this world to act for humanity. Someone has to step up and if not me who? I can’t leave it to others.

So we will set sail, we will strive to each Gaza, we do so publicly, peacefully and with no desire to harm to contribute to the harming of anyone, including the IDF who are threatening us with extreme violence if we do not turn back.

BUT although we are peaceful, although we threaten no-one, we will not be bullied, we will not turn back. We will not surrender our boats and we will try to reach Gaza.

We may not succeed on this occasion but the siege will be broken and the blockade will be lifted. Israel can menace, maim or even murder but it can no more stop us or those who follow than it can stop the tide.

Palestine will be free and its ports will be open to the world as are the ports of any other country.


DP: Are there any long term plans for activities back in Ireland once you return from this trip?


GM: Yes. I am a Sinn Féin Councillor as you know and my city council has voted to boycott Israeli goods. I recently brought our Mayor out to Gaza to meet the Mayor of Khan Younis, Mohammed al Farra, and we intend to build up a relationship between our two municipalities.

I am talking to business men and local community groups, schools and sporting associations to develop links with our sisters and brothers in  Khan Younis.

The Derry Friends of Palestine, of which I am a member, has a programme of work to do to assist the people of Gaza. We will soon be making a significant contribution to health care in Khan Younis. The details of this intervention will be announced in the near future.

But more than that I plan to continue to bear witness to the crimes that Israel is committing in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine. Along with my colleagues, the Irish Friends of Palestine and my party, Sinn Féin I intend to continue to mobilise opinion to peaceful protest at every manifestation of Zionist aggression.

I intend to be a peaceful but very persistent opponent of Israel so longs as it refuses to deal with its neighbours as equals.


DP: As an elected official, do you feel that your solidarity work for the people of Palestine in any way could hurt your political career? I am aware that many people in Ireland identify personally with the Palestinians because of their own struggles for Freedom and Independence. Can you elaborate on this?


GM: Well I suppose the big advantage of being in Ireland, and being an Irish Republican in Ireland is that your support comes from people who know all about imperialism, about land grabs about suppression, and who know just which side they are on. Consequently advocacy for Palestine will not damage anyone’s political career in Ireland.

I well remember, during my time in jail in England as our hungers strikers died, the women of Gaza took to the streets to salute and support our comrades. They reached into our prison cells on our behalf that day and we gladly reach into theirs now.

Our message is simple, Palestine, you have sisters and brothers in Ireland. You will never have to face the enemy alone. I shout aloud – The Irish are coming!


DP: Sinn Fein has always been in the forefront of the struggle, are there other groups working with you on these International issues?


GM: Sinn Fein is of course one of the largest parties on the island and one of the two major components of the government in the north and is a major opposition party in the South. The fact that our party has a principled position in support of Palestine means that these politics are now heard at the heart of government.

But it is fair to say that the breadth of support for Palestine in Ireland spreads beyond the Republican base. Nearly every party has some support for Palestine within its ranks. This is a potential major advantage for the people of Palestine because, as their case becomes better known, the support will spread further.

We believe that we can influence Irish foreign policy to take a principled stand on the Palestine issue at an international diplomatic level. We will co-operate with the widest array of parties and trends to achieve that.


DP: Gerry, it’s been a pleasure. I wish you a safe trip and hopeully one day we can celebrate together in a Jerusalem that belongs to all of the people, not just the chosen few.


GM: Inshallah! Thank you. It has been a pleasure for me too.


  1. Redpossum said,

    June 21, 2011 at 15:37

    This is a brave man.

    I don’t know if it is still posted online, but a few years back Phil Rees, as part of his “Dining With Terrorists” series, did a wonderfully relevant interview with Michael Kelly.

    Mr Kelly was with the other side of the coin, not Sinn Fein, but the PIRA, or Provisional Irish Republican Army

  2. Max said,

    June 21, 2011 at 16:56

    The Zionists will be making a VERY BIG mistake if they harm this man!

  3. June 21, 2011 at 18:47

    […] Interview on why Clr MacLochlainn is sailing on the Freedom Flotilla 2 Irish Ship to Gaza http://fb.me/PdDIjIs9 […]

  4. Michael said,

    June 21, 2011 at 20:26

    proud of you Gerry all good republicans know a just cause when they see one and the Palestine cause is a good one.wishing you and your fellow travelers a safe journey will follow your progress all the way

  5. Liam Mc Conway said,

    June 22, 2011 at 01:15

    i salute Gerry, Charlie and all the other Irish Flotilla members. They are part of a very wide ranging group of people who strive for the truth of what is happening in Palestine. Irish Republicans are at the forefront of the fight against the Zioinist dictators and their allies. With people like Gerry and Charlie along with all the brave flotilla activists the cause of Palestine and freedom will be won. We are at one with this desire and very soon Palestine will be free. In the words of Bobby Sands ” Our revenge will be the laughter of our children”

  6. Gerry said,

    June 22, 2011 at 10:04

    Total respect to the brave Irishmen and woman crew of the M/V Saorise.
    The Irish have always been friends of all downtrodden and oppressed
    people of the world.
    We Irish know only to well about the curse of opression inflicted upon us by
    800 years of misrule and slaughter by the British.
    It is time for all the powerful nations of the world to put pressure in every way
    possible on the Israeli goverment to end this barbaric imprisonment of over 1.6 million innocent men, woman and children.
    Charlie you can see the scrapbook when your back safe in Derry!

    Nár laga Dia do lámh,

    Slán go fóill.

  7. June 22, 2011 at 20:04


  8. June 25, 2011 at 18:54

    […] We will not surrender our boats and we will try to reach Gaza.” The full interview can be found HERE. Pictured yesterday below on the MV Saoirse Irish Ship with ISTG co-ordinator Dr. Fintan Lane Clr […]

  9. June 25, 2011 at 19:54

    […] Amsel at Desertpeace conducted an interview with Sinn Fein Councillor Gerry MacLochlainn who is currently in the Mediterranean getting ready to […]

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