The flag of Palestine flying outside Coralstown Church in Westmeath.

Westmeath parish flies flag for Palestine

A local parish priest said he had no problem agreeing when a group of parishioners asked if they could erect the flag of Palestine outside their church.

The flag is currently flying outside Coralstown Church along with the Irish flag and flags bearing the colours of The Downs and Coralstown/Kinnegad GAA clubs.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner in a personal capacity, parish priest Fr Tom Gilroy said he believed that, when people see the flag flying outside the church, it reminds them of the plight of the Palestinian people.

“Flying the flag is simply an acknowledgment of the Palestinian people’s right to exist. That’s not say that the Israel does not have a right to exist.”

While condemning the Hamas attack on October 7, Fr Tom said he personally believed that while Israel has a “right to be angry” and to self-defence, he feels that its response “has not been the right way to do it”.

Fr Tom spent four months living in the Holy Land when he was on sabbatical a number of years ago, and said he witnessed first hand the way in which Palestinian people were treated.

“You could see the build-up of tension among the Palestinian people. They are colonised people and no one wants to live under colonisation – I found it very shocking.”

Fr Tom added that he believed that the Irish government is “playing a blinder” when it comes to its critical stance on Israel’s actions in Gaza over the last four months.

Referring to local involvement in the Land War in the 19th century, Fr Tom said that people of Coralstown have always been “very radical” when it comes to social justice.

“That mentality still hangs in the air, thank God.”