The Bank of Ireland has been criticised after shutting the account of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), the latest in a string of similar moves by European banks.
IPSC has formally complained, following the closure of its account which it uses to lodge donations, and intends to take a case to the Financial Services Ombudsman.
Earlier this year, the Bank of Ireland requested information from IPSC about its funding and how funds were spent, in response to which, IPSC submitted its audited accounts.
According to IPSC, the Bank of Ireland has “failed to give a specific explanation of why it was closing the accounts.”
Kevin Squires, IPSC coordinator told TheJournal.ie: “Bank of Ireland’s silence speaks volumes. Honestly it’s hard to not view this as part of a wider campaign which has seen banks close accounts in the UK, Austria and France.”
“In the last year or so we have had €1,200 go to Palestine to pay for Palestinian scarves, which is a tiny amount. That’s trade with Palestine. It’s not like we’re sending money to people there.”
Vice-President of Sinn Fein and a Teachta Dala for Dublin Central, Mary Lou McDonald, said the decision was “outrageous”.
“The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign are an established advocacy group that have spent years protesting against the treatment of the Palestinian people. To close their account citing that they associate with a ‘high risk country’…this is not only outrageous; this is insulting to the Palestinian people.”
“Bank of Ireland cannot stay silent on this matter,” she added.
The following is from a statement by the IPSC:
This denial of banking rights, the ensuing loss of income and the potential reputational damage to the IPSC comes in the context of similar seemingly coordinated attacks on Palestine solidarity organisations across Europe and the United States. Numerous bank accounts belonging to such organisations have been closed in France, Germany, Austria and the UK. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that this attack on the IPSC’s ability to bank – which is, in effect, the ability to function at all – is political in nature and forms part of this wider attack on organisations that advocate for peaceful action to secure Palestinian rights enshrined in international law.
Israel has boasted of conducting a global campaign of ‘lawfare’ – using legal and other punitive threats to silence and attack supporters of Palestinian rights. This attack on the IPSC It appears to be part of this campaign, a politically motivated measure to silence a human rights organsiation that campaigns for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it fulfils its obligations under international law – a campaign the Irish government views as an entirely “legitimate” means of protest “intended to pressure Israel into ending the occupation.”