Pro-Palestine protesters target Riverdance

RIVERDANCE is being targeted by pro-Palestine campaigners who are opposed to the dance company’s plans to tour Israel later this summer.

A demonstration is planned outside the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin for the opening night of the show’s month-long return to the capital, beginning on June 28.

The protest is being organised by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign in support of the second Freedom Flotilla which will begin its journey to Gaza that day with aid supplies in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade of the port.

Riverdance is scheduled to perform nine shows in a fortnight in the Israeli cities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa in September.

The trip has already caused controversy with the show’s set designer, artist Robert Ballagh, announcing he will boycott it by refusing to travel with the troupe and donating any royalties due to him from performances in Israel to the Freedom Flotilla fund.

Fintan Lane, co-ordinator of the Irish ship taking part in the flotilla, said he was not involved in organising the Riverdance protest but was pleased the issue was being raised and did notbelieve it risked alienating support from the Irish public who have long been huge Riverdance fans.

Mr Lane said: “This has been well thought-out. It’s not just about waving placards around. The issue of a cultural boycott of Israel is based on the same principles of the campaign against apartheid.”

A spokesman for Riverdance said he could not comment on the planned demonstration as he had just heard about it and had not yet spoken to the producers of the show about it.

The crew of the Irish ship taking part in the international Freedom Flotilla, the Saoirse, are being introduced to the public today.

The crew includes Irish MEP Paul Murphy, former Leinster rugby player Trevor Hogan, several councillors and various activists, volunteers and supporters.

They will make their way to the Mediterranean this week and join 10 other ships assembling there on June 27 for the joint trip to Gaza.

In May last year, a similar aid flotilla of six ships was confronted by Israeli security forces while still at sea and nine members of the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, were killed.

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