Page last updated at 06:59 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Carrickmacross council criticised for Israel protest

Fake Irish passports were used by the suspected assassins of a Hamas leader
Fake Irish passports were used by the suspected assassins of a Hamas leader

The Irish foreign minister has condemned a town council's decision to remove the Israeli ambassador's signature from its guestbook.

Councillors in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan said they had acted because of Israel's diplomatic record.

Last month, fake Irish passports were used by the suspected assassins of a Hamas leader in Dubai, an attack which has been blamed on Israel.

Irish minister Micheal Martin said the council was guilty of "disrespect".

The minister, who has just returned from a trip to Gaza, said he shared concerns about parts of Israel's track record but that he disagreed with the decision to remove Dr Zion Evrony's name from the book.

He added: "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."

Father Ted

The council's decision has been picked up by media around the world, with the influential British newspaper, The Jewish Chronicle, likening it to to a scene from TV comedy Father Ted.

Nevertheless, local Sinn Fein councillor Matt Carthy, who tabled the motion, said he hoped the removal of the page would send a serious message to the Israeli government.

He added: "I think if a government is responsible for a wholesale disregard for international law, then local authorities as well as our own government have a responsibility to tell them we expect a higher standard.

"Carrickmacross is a very welcoming town but it was important that we took a stand."

Mr Carthy, who took part in a protest during Ambassador Evrony's visit to the market town in January, said the decision was not a snub to all Israelis.

"Certainly any Israeli individual who wanted to visit Carrickmacross is very welcome to visit, but this was an official visit which meant our council was associated with it," he said.

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