Sunday, November 22, 2009

 

Foreign Affairs Committee gets report on the assault on Gaza

This week the Foreign Affairs Committee was lucky to have one of the authors of the Goldstone Report on the invasion into Gaza by Israeli troops come in to speak to us. Colonel Desmond Travers is a retired Colonel of the Irish Army and full credit must go to Senator Mark Daly for arranging for Col Travers to brief the committee.

Col Travers went through the report and drew out some key messages. The report found evidence that some Israelis had intentionally killed Palestinian civilians during the assault. The report said that the Israeli military assault on Gaza was “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”

I brought up the subject of the ongoing hardship that is being experienced by Gazan civilians. This is particularly the case given the damage to food production (30% of the agricultural land has been ruined) as well as the image of the war on the water and sanitation systems. In my view we must do what we can to ensure that there life is made more bearable for the people living in the territory.

As Col Travers pointed out, this is one report that is refusing to go ahead. It will not be buried and forgotten.

We got an answer back to a parliamentary question we asked about children's teeth in Meath. It follows on from a meeting I had with the Irish Dental Association about a month back. The representatives of the IDA told me that because of the cutbacks to the School Dental Schmeme (whereby children of school going age get access to a dentist) less children are seeing their dentist fro a regular checkup. A result is that when they do go it because they have a bad tooth, but often it's too late for the dentist to do anything to save the teeth and as a result it must be extracted.

It turns out that over 2,000 teeth were pulled last year from children in Meath. Some of these were baby teeth but others were permanent teeth. I can imagine that parents must be furious if one of their children has to have a permanent tooth extracted at a young age, all because of a lack of dentists to catch the problem in time. I have called for more dentists to be made available within the Meath area, so that the school dental program can do its job.

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