Fresh calls for Irish politicians to act for Gaza
Fresh calls for Irish politicians to act for Gaza


Dozens of vigils took place around the country over the New Year to show solidarity with Palestine and to press Irish politicians to take immediate action to end the genocide in Gaza.

After almost three months of Israeli aerial bombardment and artillery fire, more than 22,000 Palestinians have been confirmed killed with a further 7,000 victims believed to buried under rubble. 70% of the victims are women and children. A further 56,000 have been injured.

Israel is to face genocide charges at the International Court of Justice later this month in a case, brought by South Africa and others. The Dublin government has so far failed to support the action. Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed it and has vowed his killing campaign will continue for “many more months”.

In Belfast on New Year’s Eve, over 1,000 people took part in a demonstration along the banks of the River Lagan. Their calls for a ceasefire in Gaza echoed numerous vigils organised by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Hundreds waved or wore Palestinian flags as they called for action on a riverside march from the Albert Bridge to Pilot Street in Belfast.

Among the marchers, some carried the banners of their organisations, including trade unions, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) and Jews for Palestine, Ireland.

People Before Profit representative Gerry Carroll, who attended the Belfast event, described the recent Israeli actions as a barbarism.

He said: “Tens of thousands of Palestinians have now been killed, millions more have been internally displaced under hail of Israeli bombs in Gaza. This year we must all redouble our efforts to see an end to the slaughter.

“Though easy to succumb to despair in the face of such barbarism, the resilience and brave resistance of the Palestinian people should give us all hope. For our part, we are proud to have played a role in the mass, global movement against Israel’s violent and racist settler-colonial project.

“In every corner, the demand for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel is growing.”

Derry’s Peace Bridge was draped with Palestinian flags and banners on New Year’s Eve as thousands of people took to the streets of the city.

The Derry Branch of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) said there was an incredible turnout for its New Year’s Eve Vigil for Palestine.

Catherine Hutton, Derry IPSC chair, said the event was organised to demand ‘an end to the genocide in Gaza’ and ‘a ceasefire now’.

Ms Hutton also called for local politicians to boycott the annual St. Patrick’s Day reception in the White House in 2024 while ‘the US is arming Israel and refusing to join the massive international pressure for a ceasefire’.

She pointed to the 1.2 million internally displaced people in Gaza who have been left ‘homeless, starving with no water, no medicines and who are being ravaged by the cold weather and diseases’.

Hundreds of people gathered at Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge for a vigil in support of Palestinian people. In Galway, over 300 people attended a vigil at the Spanish Arch. Among them was Róisín El Cherif. Her mother is Irish and her father is from Gaza.

“I’m here with a lot of Irish people, a lot of mixed people to show solidarity with the people of Gaza, the people of Palestine who have [been] left to fend for themselves,” he told RTE.

“We want them to know just how much support there is for them on the ground and to let them know that the people around the world, and especially here in Ireland stand with them.”

A large fraction of the population of the tiny island of Inis Oírr on the west coast of Ireland also turned up in the cold, wind, and rain for a Vigil for Palestine.

Kites flew in Kinvara, County Clare on New Year’s Day, inspired by the words of Gazan poet and academic Refaat Alareer. Mr Alareer wrote ‘If I Must Die’ one month before he was murdered in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza.

Sinn Féin has repeatedly expressed support for the people of Gaza, but party leader Mary Lou McDonald has so far resisted pressure to boycott St Patrick’s Day at the White House over US support for Israel.

McDonald said she has spoken to US representatives about where her party stands on the issue.

“The Irish relationship with the United States is a very long standing one, a very valuable one, on many, many dimensions,” she said.

“I don’t think boycotting an event like that would resolve the issue at hand in the Middle East.”

She said “the issue of Palestine did come up” in conversations with US officials.

“America is very much on the right side of things in terms of the Irish peace process. I would like to see the United States very much on the right side of building peace in the Middle East,” she said.

In response, Mr Carroll called on Irish political parties to “publicly boycott” the St Patrick’s Day White House celebrations to “show how isolated the US is in its support for Israel”.

“Israel could not continue its murderous campaign of collective punishment of the people of Gaza without the bombs, weaponry and political support of Joe Biden and his administration,” he said.

“It would be shameful if Irish politicians were to wine and dine with the war hawks in Washington in this context. Irish government parties, including Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Greens, should be nowhere near the White House as this slaughter continues, nor should parties like Sinn Féin and the SDLP,” Mr Carroll said.

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