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CRH: Opposition to Israeli apartheid wall dominates AGM of Irish multinational

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Wednesday May 05, 2010 19:09author by Fintan Lane - IPSC media officerauthor phone 087 1258325 Report this post to the editors

CRH complicity with Israeli apartheid wall is major issue at their AGM today

Palestine Dominates CRH AGM at the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire
Today, Wednesday 5th May, a large number of Palestine solidarity activists staged a demonstration outside the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Irish multinational CRH, while concerned shareholders inside asked serious and pointed questions about the role of the Irish cement company in supplying construction materials being used in the building of Israel’s apartheid Separation Wall and in illegal settlements in Palestine.

CRH has a 25% stake in the Israeli Mashav group, which acts as a holding company for Israel’s sole cement producer, Nesher.
IPSC Chair Dr David Landy tells assembled supporters about the intervention in the AGM
IPSC Chair Dr David Landy tells assembled supporters about the intervention in the AGM

Activists from the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) and Project Clean Hands dominated the CRH AGM this morning. Supporters of the IPSC and other concerned shareholders made their concerns clear at the meeting. In the course of an hour, the Board of Directors was bombarded by questions from shareholders anxious about CRH's complicity in human rights abuses in occupied Palestine through their 25% shareholding in Mashav Initiative and Development Ltd and their wholly owned subsidiary Nesher Cement Enterprises.

CRH were asked why they were so shy about revealing details of the profits they are deriving from Nesher's illegal activities in Palestine (building settlements, settler-only roads and the apartheid wall). They were also asked what funds had been set aside to compensate those Palestinians affected by its Israeli subsidiaries involvement in illegal activities and what monies had been set aside to defend the company against legal actions due to their complicity in breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law.

In general, CRH were reminded by shareholders of their responsibilities not to be complicit in human rights abuses in occupied Palestine; the directors were asked what due diligence they have carried out on their subsidiaries to ensure that the group is operating legally and is not facilitating international crimes.

The chairman of CRH was clearly rattled by the depth and extent of concern on these issues but he refused to provide direct answers to the questions raised; he stated that CRH are a minority shareholder and have no involvement with the day-to-day running of their subsidiaries. This crude attempt to deflect criticism was wholly unconvincing and CRH were reminded that they have a very substantial shareholding in Mashav/Nesher, with two directors on the board of nine, and, consequently, can have a real input into their subsidiaries activities.

According to John Dorman, Divestment Officer with the IPSC, who was present at the AGM: “A solid 25% shareholding is no small holding in any business and it entitles the owners to a significant say in how the business operates. If after due diligence they cannot convince their subsidiary to act within the law, then CRH should immediately divest its shareholding from Mashav. There is no excuse for CRH’s current behaviour – they are helping to build the infrastructure of apartheid in the West Bank. They are in bed with the Israeli apartheid state.”

Following the AGM, the chairman did acknowledge the genuine concerns raised during the meeting and stated that CRH were listening and would take into consideration the views raised.

Outside the meeting, there was a large, colourful, noisy and vibrant protest. Supporters lined the streets immediately beside the hotel with flags, banners and a replica of a segment of the Apartheid Wall.

Dr Raymond Deane of the IPSC and local People Before Profit Alliance councillor Richard Boyd-Barrett gave brief speeches condemning CRH’s complicity in human rights abuses, while thousands of leaflets outlining the IPSC’s concerns over CRH’s activities in Palestine were distributed to shareholders entering the conference and to many passers by.

Referring to the public reception to the protest, Dr Deane commented: "While some people were understandably shocked on hearing the information, it was encouraging to see that so many were already aware of the issue and were completely supportive. CRH's aiding and abetting of Israeli human rights abuses is clearly an issue that people in Ireland care about."

Supporters of Palestinian human rights, both inside and outside the AGM, made their presence felt throughout the day and made clear to CRH that this campaign will be stepped up and intensified unless they end all involvement with the Israeli apartheid state.

According to John Dorman: “This is the first salvo in what will be an intense campaign by the IPSC to see CRH divest from Mashav. We are determined to bring an end to the shameful association of an Irish company in human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.”

He continued: “The next phase will be a broad public awareness campaign targeting institutional investors, such as financial, church and trade unions investors, to make them aware of CRH's illegal activities. We will be asking them to divest from CRH in order to bring pressure on the group to divest from Israel. We will also actively lobby for change to the National Pension Reserve Fund so that there are ethical criteria for government investments which would exclude complicit companies such as CRH.”

Mr Dorman concluded: “There is a great deal of anger among Palestine solidarity activists and supporters because of CRH’s involvement in building the West Bank separation wall. It is a disgrace and utterly unacceptable. The directors of CRH should be ashamed of themselves.”

Call on CRH plc to divest from Israel:
petition http://www.ipsc.ie/crhdivest/petition.html
webpage http://www.ipsc.ie/crhdivest/index.html

Related Link: http://www.ipsc.ie

Protestors line the street outside the hotel
Protestors line the street outside the hotel

Cllr Hugh Lewis, Dr Raymond Deane, Cllr Richard Boyd-Barrett and Cllr Gino Kenny show their support
Cllr Hugh Lewis, Dr Raymond Deane, Cllr Richard Boyd-Barrett and Cllr Gino Kenny show their support

CRH Builds Israeli Apartheid
CRH Builds Israeli Apartheid

Stop Israel's Theft of Palestinian Land
Stop Israel's Theft of Palestinian Land

author by IPSC Press Officepublication date Wed May 05, 2010 19:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

All photographs (here and above) courtesy of Kev...

Scale-model Apartheid Wall (thanks to the Cahill family)
Scale-model Apartheid Wall (thanks to the Cahill family)

Dr Raymond Deane of the IPSC speaks out
Dr Raymond Deane of the IPSC speaks out

Outside the hotel
Outside the hotel

Inside the hotel after the AGM finished
Inside the hotel after the AGM finished

Related Link: http://www.ipsc.ie
author by Fintan Lane - IPSCpublication date Wed May 05, 2010 19:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I believe an impressive Alternative Annual Report was also handed to shareholders as they entered the AGM. This detailed CRH's involvement with the Israeli apartheid state.

author by Raymond - IPSCpublication date Wed May 05, 2010 19:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Congratulations to all concerned in organising and participating in this very effective demo which we all hope will contribute towards shaking CRH out of its complacency, and maybe drive another nail into the coffin of corporate collaboration with Israel's crimes.

author by Zoe Lawlor - Personal Capacitypublication date Wed May 05, 2010 20:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well done everyone involved for what looks like a very informed and informative intervention into the CRH AGM, as well as a great demonstration outside. Let's keep the pressure up until CRH divests from apartheid or all its shareholders divest from it.
Great stuff.

author by TD - Free Palestine Campaignpublication date Thu May 06, 2010 00:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The IPSC are not alone in combatting CRH and its weasel profiteering in the occupied West Bank, its breaking of the Fourth Geneva Conventions, the 2004 International Court of Justice advisory ruling on the Apartheid-Annexation Wall and UN norms and ethics for multinationals: Last Friday at the weekly protest against the Wall, the people of Bil'in led by head of the Popular Committee, Iyad Burnat, turned their fire and ire on that scabby outfit: Following a short, fiery denouncement of CRH and all its works from the public podium near the village mosque before the demonstration commenced, Iyad followed through at the memorial to the murdered Bassem Abu Rahma at the Wall where CRH was further witheringly attacked - 29 Palestinians have been murdered whilst nonviolently resisting the Wall and hundreds more have been injured and maimed. CRH has Palestinian blood on its hands as Iyad passionately pointed out whilst appealing directly to CRh to: "Stop Killing us."

Last Friday's protest in Bil'in against CRH was one of an ongoing series until CRH is forced to divest from Mashav.

crh2_1.jpg

crh1_1.jpg

CRH : "No involvement" in human rights, just profiteering, tear gas and blood
CRH : "No involvement" in human rights, just profiteering, tear gas and blood

Caption: IPSC: Bil'in CRH Protest


Related Link: http://www.ipsc.ie/crhdivest/
author by David L - IPSCpublication date Thu May 06, 2010 10:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

TD is right that CRH isn't just an IPSC issue (though if you were reading the papers today you could have been forgiven for believing that it was only an issue that some befuddled Irish people were interested in) - it is an issue for Palestinians.

I was one of the people inside the CRH AGM yesterday, asking questions and making comments. The thing I was happiest about saying was telling the shareholders about the Palestinian protest against CRH - that Palestinians view their company as one of the top collaboraters with the Israeli occupation. Some shareholders actually came around to our point of view - one expressing his shame that CRH were involved with the Apartheid wall.

Our next step is to pressure shareholders - including many charitable organisations - to put pressure on CRH to divest from Apartheid.

author by Maura C. - Stop the Wallpublication date Thu May 06, 2010 13:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Omar Barghouti of the BDS campaign writes that: Irish Senators and Members of Parliament (TDs in Irish) are leading the way in explicitly calling on the Irish government to VETO Israel's membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an exclusive club of 30 of the richest industrialized states http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/letters/2010/0506/1....html

Standing up to the "common sense" approach of official Europe of following the US hegemonic lead and praising Israel's restraint for not killing off or ethnically cleansing all Palestinians, these Irish senators and TDs have proven that principle and commitment to human rights can -- and should -- overcome political convenience and complacency, even in a country whose economy is relatively small and suffering from a deep financial crisis. A true Irish spirit of justice!

We hope parliamentarians in Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, Norway, Belgium, Spain, among other members of the OECD, will live up to the same level of moral and political responsibility and act to end Israel's impunity before it is too late.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) with many civil society partners in several countries are waging an intensive lobbying effort to convince at least one state member of the OECD (each member has a veto) to vote against Israel's accession until it fully complies with its obligations under international law and respects Palestinian rights.

The lack of an official, written statement from the PLO opposing Israel's membership in the OECD is making life much more difficult for the BNC and civil society at large. Still, Israel's failure to comply with the OECD's principles, benchmarks and main criteria for membership is so blatant that some European decision makers are listening at last. Whether or not they will have enough time or enough say to change the decision already taken by EU states to support Israel's membership is another story.

Rewarding Israel's war crimes in Gaza, the Negev and Jerusalem with membership in the OECD is a slap on the face of international law and human decency; it may well announce the end of hope among some -- whether out of sheer naiveté, pathetic lack of information, or intentional complicity -- that the powerful governments of the world will ever deliver justice to the Palestinian people or any other oppressed group unless they are compelled to, mainly due to intensive, persistent and evolving civil society pressure in conjunction with effective, intelligent and morally-consistent resistance by the oppressed and their supporters.

Take Action to Stop Apartheid Israel's Membership of the OECD (Related Link).

Related Link: http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/ipsc/displayRelease.php?releaseID=316
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