Israel boycott praised by MEP but NILGOSC ignored

Martina Anderson, MEP.
Martina Anderson, MEP.

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has lionised a Dutch pension fund for withdrawing investments from Israeli banks but won’t comment on the investment of thousands of local workers’ pensions in an Israeli telecommunications firms.

In a lengthy statement, Ms Anderson said: “I welcome the courageous decision by the Netherlands’ largest pension fund PGGM who has withdrawn all its investments from Israeli Banks on the basis that settlement construction in the West Bank poses a problem from the standpoint of international law. The five largest Israeli banks have branches in the West Bank and/or are involved in financing construction in the settlements. The decision is liable to lead other business concerns in Europe to follow suit.”

Much closer to home, however, the pension contributions of local council workers, alongside staff at Ilex, WELB, NIHE, Magee, City of Derry Airport, NWRC, Ulsterbus and some schools are all invested in Bezeq Israeli Telecom, which is a major telephone and internet firm, which also operates in the West Bank.

The Sentinel asked - given Ms Anderson’s stated position regarding PGGM’s controversial move - if Sinn Féin believed the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC) pension fund should sell its holdings in Bezeq. Last April 2013, NILGOSC held £505,109.20 of Bezeq stock on behalf of thousands of future public sector pensioners.

The Sentinel also asked if it had any concerns about other NILGOSC investments, such as those held in arms and tobacco firms. There was no response.

In her statement Ms Anderson said: “I urge other EU investors to show the same ‘social responsibility’ as PGGM and other Dutch companies.”