Monthly Archives: November 2016

Here is a statement from Senator Dick Black (below).

I commend the Peace and Reconciliation Delegation’s efforts in Ireland.

Western powers conspired with dictators from Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia to undermine the popularly-elected government of Syria.  They did this despite the fact that Syria was a model to be emulated by all countries in the Arabic World.  Syria had enjoyed 40 years of peace with Israel.  It had no troops outside of its own borders.  Syria had greater women’s rights than any other Arab nation, and Syrians enjoyed complete religious freedom.   Before foreign powers acted to exploit religious differences Syria was famous for its unique atmosphere of religious harmony.

President Bashar al Assad is not a dictator; he is the legitimately elected leader of Syria.  In 2014, Syria conducted valid elections, and president Bashar al Assad won a resounding vote of confidence.  89% of Syrians voted for Assad and there was a 73% voter turnout.  The Washington Post headline said, “Syrian election sends powerful signal of Assad’s control,” June 3, 2014.  The Christian Science Monitor reported that the vote signaled that Assad, “Is not a dictator fighting for his life and that of his regime against a popular opposition but the elected leader of a country battling foreign-backed ‘terrorists.’”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are brutal dictatorships, and Turkey, which once enjoyed relative freedom, has also descended into absolute tyranny under the vicious rule of President Erdogan.   Why do we not call these people dictators and refer to their nations as regimes?


After nearly six years, the small nation of Syria remains united against the terrorists.  In all these years not a single terrorist has emerged as a popular figure among the Syrian people. The rebel armies are collapsing all across Syria and especially Aleppo.  It is imperative that freedom loving people come to the aid of Syria and rebuilt what foreigners have destroyed.

I hope that you will extend every possible courtesy to the Peace and Reconciliation Delegation to Ireland.

Senator Richard H. Black

Syrian Peace Delegation to Ireland

As Aleppo finally sees peace dawn, the peace pilgrimage to Ireland of Syria’s major religious leaders is very newsworthy because
1. It is unprecedented not only in Ireland but also in all of Western Europe during the current Syrian Crisis to have such a venerable delegation of Syrians. It is a very Irish coup.
2. It shows a unity of purpose amongst Syria’s Muslim and Christian religious leaders to travel anywhere, even to tiny Ireland, l’île derrière l’île, as the French say, to spread their peace message.
3. It shows there are very many people in Ireland who are willing, able and determined to enable and empower in ways big and small the Syrians in their great quest for peace.
4. It sets a precedent both in Ireland and in Europe that can and must be replicated to allow peace to return to the Syrian Arab Republic.
5. The words of the great Martin Luther King Jr that “in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” still hold true but not, in this the centenary of 1916, for all Irish people.and that very many of us, joined by our gallant allies in Europe, are fully prepared to help the Syrian people emerge from this great nightmare and that Gulf State money cannot buy those of us who are not for sale. ¡No pasarán!
6. We are not powerless if we stand with these venerable Syrian religious leaders in their quest for peace. We have no holier cause.
7. We are assembling an Irish (and other) fact finding delegation to the Syrian Arab Republic for St Patrick’s Day, March 17th and we are confident of having a parade there to honour our national saint and much more so, the heroic women and children of the Syrian Republic, whose sacrifices prove the Irish proverb that It is not those who can inflict the most, but those that can suffer the most who will prevail. As well as performing life-saving operations, our medical partners will see the deplorable state Ireland’s sanctions have reduced Syria’s maternity wards to.
8. Our European and other partners are willing to ferry Irish medical and other aid free of charge from Dublin to Damascus where the offices of the Grand Mufti and the venerable Patriarchs will ensure it is equitably distributed.
Media Queries: email me
Background Briefings from Patriarch Laham and Dr Bashir Mohamad are available by scrolling down on the website. Please quote/use these excellent resources freely.
Tuesday 29 November
Syriac Holy Qurbono:  His Holiness, Ignatius Aphrem II Of Antioch, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, world spiritual leader of the Syriac Orthodox Church,.will perform the Holy Qurbono for the 500 members of the  Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church (Jacobite Syrian Christian Church), which is an integral branch of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Dublin on the evening of Tuesday 29th November. Media who wish to cover this private event should contact me by phone or email in the first instance.
Holy Qurbono: The Syriac Qurbono has its roots in the West Semitic Aramaic culture and language that Jesus spoke and that Syriacs still converse in to this day in the ruins of the ransacked city of Ma’loula and other parts of the Syrian Arab Republic, where His Holiness is based. Some say it is the oldest of all Christian liturgies. It is certainly among the most beautiful and moving.
Visual Extravaganza: As the Qurbono is such a wonder of majesty, splendour and spirituality, this unique service deserves to be extensively reported.
Wednesday 30 November. Trinity College, Dublin. Trinity are our main partners here and their media dept will handle most queries. As seating is very limited, it is mostly by invite only.
5pm College Chapel: His Holiness will join his Syrian religious colleagues His Grace, Dr Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria, His Beatitude, Gregory III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and Alexandria and Jerusalem, world spiritual leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, together with clergy from all the main Abahamic and other religions in a united prayer of peace for Syria. Trinity’s acclaimed choristers, senior Trinity academics, politicians, senior Irish medical personnel  and senior members of the diplomatic corps will be present for this event.
6pm: Commons. Trinity Dining Hall. The Syrian religious leaders will join senior Trinity academics, politicians, senior Irish medical personnel  and senior members of the diplomatic corps for Commons and to discuss further initiatives to forward the Syrian peace process. As seating is limited and as far too many wish to attend, I have foregone my place and will not attend, Other fish to fry.
7pm-9pm: Open Meeting, to be Addressed by these venerable Syrian religious leaders and senior Syrian surgeons and to be chaired by a senior Trinity academic.
8pm: Anti Extremist Declaration: His Grace will sign the anti-extremist document, as drawn up by our partners in the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council (Impic) and allied bodies.
Thursday 1st.  Houses of the Oireachtas, Leinster House, Kildare Street 8.45am-11.15 am.

The delegation of Syrian religious and medical leaders will appear before The Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defence of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) in Committee Room 1, Their appearance will be broadcast live from about 9.15 am to 11 am GMT at this link on and going to the Committee Room 1 link.

11.15 am: His Holiness will briefly join the other members of the delegation to answer some questions outside Leinster House before departing for other appointments. 

1.15 pm: Wreath-laying ceremony. His Grace and His Beatitude will jointly lay a wreath at the small monument at the corner of Trinity College and Kildare Street to commemorate all victims of violence, in Dublin and in Syria in particular. We will have a respectable crowd for this short, dignified commemoration of all victims of such violence. 

2pm-3pm: Press Conference, Buswell’s Hotel.  His Grace and His Beatitude will be joined by senior Syrian surgeons for this press briefing. Because this is filling up quickly, most likely not everyone can be accommodated. As it is a press conference, priority will be given to the media, our NGO partners & our various other partners in allocating seating and standing.

Friday 2nd December

His Grace will lead Irish Muslims in the Jumu’ah.  This is a congregational prayer (ṣalāt) that Muslims hold every Friday, just after noon instead of the Zuhr prayer. Our Muslim partners are organising that and a number of other peace initiatives too.

Syrian Delegation to Ireland

 On Monday, please phone up Irish TV stations and news desks and tweet them the link. Seating is very limited and mostly by invitation at these events.  The Irish police (gardai) will have the usual “Ireland for ISIS” suspects under review and all events will have additional and appropriate stewarding at them. 
Schedule (Various other important services are being privately organised in conjunction with these)
Wednesday 30th 4pm-9.30pm: Trinity College. There are a number of private and public inter-religious and academic meetings organised for Trinity, with our Trinity partners being the main organiser. Members of the diplomatic corps along with NGOs will be in attendance to better calibrate how, together, we can better help the people of the Syrian Arab Republic, both in the shorter term (Western Christmas 2016) and medium term (St Patrick’s Day 2017 in Syria). Trinity are putting on a fine show and again showing why they are one of the world’s very best universities.

Thursday 1st. 8.45am-11.15 am. Irish Parliament. Committee Room 1, broadcast live from about 9.15 am to 11 am GMT at this link on and going to the Committee Room 1 link. Please tune it, tweet, download and upload.

1.15 pm: Wreath-laying ceremony. Corner of Trinity College and Kildare Street. We will have a respectable crowd for this short, dignified commemoration of all victims of such violence. 

2pm-3pm: Press Conference, Buswell’s Hotel.  Because this is filling up quickly, most likely not everyone can be accommodated. As it is a press conference, priority will be given to the media, our NGO partners & our various other partners into account in allocating seating and standing.

Friday 2nd: am: Visit winds down. Some delegation members stay until Monday for further meetings and religious services in various parts of the island of Ireland

Deputy Clare Daly, Senator David Norris & Fr Dave Smith: Thank you for your representation (and small subsistence donation) on behalf of Gafar Azouz and his Palestinian Syrian grandmother, Hajar Saleh, whose DNA has now been confirmed as identical to Gafar’s. All of their family were gunned down on the Turkish border. We have worked patiently, silently and expensively on this for well over a year. Hopefully they can return soon from the Turkish orphanage Gafar is held in to the Syrian capital that has been their family’s homeland since 1948. It is a small, tiny “victory” for humanity in this Syrian sea of Hell. That is but one of the “All Quiet on the Aleppo Front” heart-piercing issues we and members of our esteemed delegation deal with,

The goals of the visit are to firstly send a fact-finding medical, religious, political and humanitarian mission to the Syrian Arab Republic from Ireland, as well as from other independent-minded countries; to encourage Irish charity and NGO groups to send aid to Damascus via Trócaire/Caritas and other transparent and credible conduits Syria’s venerable religious leaders recommend and to lay the foundations for a major international fact-finding and medical delegation to visit Damascus and environs on March 17th 2017, St Patrick’s Day.
The situation  in Syria, as East Aleppo’s human shields show, remains very grave for all Syrians. Although this visit is strictly non-political  it must be clearly stated that EU sanctions, in which Ireland is fully complicit, are responsible for more deaths than even ISIS. The bulk of the Irish people do not accept that rampant collusion or that of our media, which is a crimson blight on our neutrality.
Delegation’s Main Members

His Beatitude, Gregory III Laham is Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and Alexandria and Jerusalem, and the world’s spiritual leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

His Holiness, Ignatius Aphrem II of Antioch is Patriarch of Antioch, and the world’s spiritual leader of the Syriac Orthodox Church. 

His Grace, Dr Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun is the Grand Mufti of Syria.

Dr Ahmad al Khaddour is a cardiothoracic surgeon and a Professor of Medicine at Damascus University.  Dr Bashir Mohammad is a cardiologist.

Patriach Gregorios Laham’s Draft Speech

Patriarch Laham’s draft speech to the Irish parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee from c 9am to 11 am on 1 December 2016 may be downloaded in PDF format from this link here.

Dr Bashir Mohamad’s testimony can be downloaded in Powerpoint format here.

The testimony of Syria’s medical and religious leaders to the Irish Parliament will be broadcast live from about 9.15 am GMT. Click on this link and then go to the Committee Room 1 link.

Syrian Delegation to Visit Ireland

Senior Syrian Religious Leaders visit Ireland in Appeal for Help to End the Syrian War

Press Conference: Georgian Room, Buswell’s Hotel, Thursday December 1st, 2pm-3pm.
A delegation of very senior religious leaders from Syria will be in Ireland on November 30 and December 1 to discuss the critical situation in their native country and will outline what Ireland can do to help. They will be accompanied by senior medical personnel with direct experience of the atrocities being committed in Syria’s civil war.
delegation will hold a press conference at Buswell’s Hotel on December 1, straight after addressing the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defence of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament). The one-hour press conference will begin at 2pm sharp.
The chief members of the delegation are:

  • His Grace, Dr Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria;

  • His Beatitude, Gregory III Laham, the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and Alexandria and Jerusalem, spiritual leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church;

  • His Holiness, Ignatius Aphrem II, the Patriarch of Antioch, spiritual leader of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

The delegation will attend meetings in Trinity College and religious ceremonies in other Dublin venues on 30th November.
In addition to their important testimony, surgeons Dr Ahmad al Khaddour and Dr Bashir Mohammad will update us on Syria’s ongoing medical catastrophe, very much of it caused by the EU’s unjust medical sanctions.
Although each member of the delegation has experienced barbarisms most Irish people cannot even begin to imagine, the focus of the visit is on exploring practical ways to extricate the Syrian people from the morass foreign intervention has mired them in.
Thus, although the delegation will give an update on Syria’s suffering, the main purpose of the visit is to examine practical ways Ireland may pro-actively contribute in the political and humanitarian spheres towards developing a peace process in Syria.

The visitors will urge Ireland to:

  • Send a fact-finding delegation to Syria

  • Invite further Syrian delegations to Ireland and the EU

  • Send humanitarian aid via Trócaire/Caritas and other reputable bodies through the offices of the Grand Mufti and the Patriarchs, rather than through more compromised conduits

  • Explore avenues to end the unconscionable crimes that the friends, families and followers of these three Syrian religious leaders and the colleagues and patients of these two Syrian surgeons have been subjected to.

These speakers offer us not only a way to learn first-hand of the unspeakable crimes the Syrian people are being subjected to but they also offer us a way to help Syrians defend and promote our own most basic humanitarian values in the face of the most unspeakable barbarities any nation has suffered in recent times.

Press Statement Ends

For interview time slots with delegation members and further information: please email .