Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Press Release

16 Apr 2009
Write to Galway City Councillors urging support for anti-Veolia motion
The IPSC calls on all members and supporters to please support this initiative to encourage Galway City manager not to sign or renew any further contracts with Veolia by emailing the City Councillors asking them to support the motion put forward by Cllr. Cameron.

Dear Councillor.

As French multinational company, Veolia, is directly implicated in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and is facilitating through its construction of a light railway Israel's attempt to make its annexation of the Palestinian territory of East Jerusalem irreversible and permanent, I request that you support Cllr. Billy Cameron's forthcoming motion calling on the City Manager not to sign or renew any further contracts with Veolia.

  • Sligo County Council unanimously adopted a similar motion at its February 2009 meeting.
  • The Irish Government and the U.N. do not recognise Israel’s annexation and occupation of East Jerusalem and have repeatedly stated their views that the Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank contravene international law - numerous UN resolutions and the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel's Apartheid Wall have confirmed this.  The settlements violate Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention, which provides that:: “...The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” as well as Article 53, which forbids destruction of property. These violations in some cases in East Jerusalem amount to war crimes, i.e. “grave breaches” of the Convention, (Articles 146 and 147), as they involve appropriation of Palestinian property not justified by military necessity. These grave breaches are being facilitated by Veolia’s participation in the construction and future of the tramway serving the settlements.
  • Recently, the Swedish non-governmental organization, Diakonia, organized protests calling on the Stockholm Community Council to exclude Veolia from bidding for the subway contract. The council received thousands of signatories from people demanding that the council choose an operator that was not associated with violations of international humanitarian law. On 20 January, 2009, the council announced that Veolia, after operating the subway for the past 10 years, had lost the  $4.5 billion contract to Hong Kong-based rail operator MTR.
  • Public Citizen, a non-profit organisation based in the U.S.  founded by Ralph Nader,  has criticised Veolia for its 'track record of corruption, broken promises, environmental degradation, price-gouging, obfuscation, misdirection and secrecy'
  • In November 2006, ASN, a Dutch bank based in the Hague, broke off financial relations with Veolia on account of the light rail contract. In its correspondence with Veolia, ASN Bank explained the reasons for ending the relationship with Veolia: "This combined information convinced ASN Bank that Veolia's involvement does pose a problem for ASN Bank in applying the banks' social criteria on Human Rights. We believe that Veolia's involvement in the light rail project is not in line with the UN's demand to stop all support for Israel's settlement activities, and is therefore not in line with ASN Banks' social criteria. Due to the direct nature of Veolia's involvement (through a 5% stake in the consortium and as future operator), we are of the opinion that Veolia's activities in Jerusalem are in conflict with UN Resolutions. Therefore, on this current information Veolia will be removed from our investment universe."
  • The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (2000) state that enterprises should “Respect the human rights of those affected by their activities consistent with the host government’s international obligations and commitments”.  The Palestinians’ land is illegally taken to build the tramway and they have to endure illegal settlements planted in their midst.
  • The UN Global Compact (2000), of which Veolia is a member, states that businesses should support and respect the protection of international human rights within their spheres of influence, and make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
  • Veolia which runs Luas, Dublin's light rail system, has been forced by Trade Union pressure to cancel a proposed deal to train drivers and engineers for the Jerusalem light rail. 
  • In March 2007, the Association France Palestine Solidarite (AFPS) took a legal action in France against Veolia and Alstom because both companies are involved in the Israeli light rail or tramway project that will run on occupied East Jerusalem and the contracts are contrary to French Law: Articles 6, 1131 and 1133 of the French Civil Code state that any agreement can be discharged of its powers when its aim is in contradiction with the public order or good morals. The contracts of Veolia Transport and Alstom and are therefore also illegal under French law. The legal action undertaken by AFPS  is based on this rule in French law and is seeking the cancellation of the contracts for the construction and running of the tramway in Palestine between Veolia,  Alstom, and the Israeli government. At the same time the legal action is aimed to prohibit the companies to execute the contract.  … this case is still ongoing.
  • In November 2006, a delegation of the Palestinian Authority met Ministers and Members of Parliament in France to call for actions against Veolia to stop its involvement in the illegal tramway project.
  • Under the UK Public Contract Regulations 2006, a contracting authority may exclude an economic operator from bidding for a contract or may reject any such bid where it is found that the individual or organization has committed an act of grave misconduct in the course of his business of profession. The regulation follows European Law, Directive 2004/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts.

The tramway also constitutes a significant alteration of the infrastructure of the Occupied Palestinian Territories contrary to the Hague Regulations of 1907, Section 3, which Israel accepts as binding international law. Through its involvement in the building and future operation of the tramway linking Israel's illegal settlements with West Jerusalem, Veolia is facilitating Israel's grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and is complicit in its perpetuation of those actions. In other words, Veolia is involved in aiding and abetting ongoing war crimes. It is also facilitating, exacerbating, aiding and abetting Israel's breach of the Hague Regulations.

Yours sincerely

Galway City East

Cllr. Daniel Callanan (Ind)

Cllr. Tom Costello (LP)

Cllr. Michael J Crowe (FF)

Cllr. Declan McDonnel (PD)

Cllr. Terry O'Flaherty (PD)

Cllr. Brian Walsh (FG)

Cllr. Mary Leahy (FF)

Galway City Central

Cllr. Billy Cameron (LP)

Cllr. Pádraig Conneely (FG) No email address 087 2593886 (home / fax) 091 589925

Cllr. Colette Connolly (LP)

Cllr. John Connolly (FF)

Galway City West

Cllr. Catherine Connolly (Ind)

Cllr. Donal Lyons (PD)

Cllr. John Mullholland (FG)

Cllr. Niall Ó Brolcháin (GP)


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