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Councillor Elisa O’Donovan responds to comments on her understanding of Irish culture: “We have a level of respect missing in politics”

Social Democrats’ Elisa O’Donovan was accused by Emmett O’Brien of not understanding “culture of the country” due to being born in England.

Speaking to Limerick Voice, Social Democrats Councillor Elisa O’Donovan responds to being told by Independent Cllr. Emmett O’Brien that she “mightn’t understand the culture of the country” due to being born in England. 

Cllr. O’Donovan says: “I’m well used to council meetings at this stage, and I never have to go personal on my politics, but unfortunately other councillors do.” 

Cllr. O’Brien’s remarks reportedly come from Monday’s Limerick County and City Council (LCCC) meeting in response to Cllr. O’Donovan’s motion. 

The Social Democrat Councillor raised a motion that endorses the Amnesty International report on “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians” and supports the Palestinian BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.

Speaking about O’Brien’s remarks, Elisa adds: “I’m always extremely respectful to all my councillor colleagues.

“We have a level of respect missing in politics, and I’ve definitely experienced it myself. I would never query someone on whether or not they understand the culture of their country just because they weren’t born here.”

Cllr. Emmett O’Brien described her motion as “shameful” and wondered “why do we have to concern ourselves so much in Ireland” about conflicts in Palestine and Ukraine. 

Cllr. O’Donovan responded in Monday’s meeting by bringing up the fact that he had previously called the invasion of Ukraine “heartbreaking”.

She says to Limerick Voice: “I didn’t understand when he said he didn’t care, most people have been very moved by all these crises all over the world.”

Cllr. O’Brien, clarifying his stance, says: “I care about all loss of life, but our primary duty is to the people of Limerick. Promoting boycotts, division, fear, and hatred certainly isn’t showing respect for member of the Jewish faith or any faith or race.”

The Social Democrats councillor defends her motion as “absolutely not divisive” given that it was passed by the LCCC and brought up the Occupied Territories Bill which is currently moving through the Oireachtas before being passed into law. The bill seeks to engage Ireland in the boycott of goods and services imported from the Israeli occupied territories.

Reflecting on the Israel-Palestine conflict, she says: “What is happening in Gaza to the Palestinian people is a genocide.”

Cllr. O’Donovan states that the people of Limerick have been “appalled by what we’ve seen in Gaza over the last several weeks” and that Israel had “clearly been identified [as an apartheid state] by the international community” despite Cllr. O’Brien saying otherwise.

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