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.
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: