Sinn Féin representatives will travel to Washington DC for the annual St Patrick’s Day events despite strong pressure to boycott the trip over the US role in the conflict in the Middle East.
The party’s vice president, Michelle O’Neill, said her party would use the trip to advocate for an end to the Israeli war. Israel has so far killed more than 25,000 Palestinians and 10,000 children in its bombardment and invasion of the Gaza Strip. It has turned the enclave into an apocalyptic death zone in which Palestinians are subjected to constant deadly attacks while suffering extreme shortages of food, water and healthcare.
Us President Joe Biden, who has previously described himself as a Zionist, continues to oppose even a ceasefire. This has posed a moral dilemma for some Irish politicians who traditionally visit the US capital for the March 17 events, include the high-profile visit to the White House during which the US President receives a bowl of shamrock from the Irish Taoiseach.
While it is understood invitations have not yet been issued for this year’s event, both party leader Mary Lou McDonald and Vice President Ms O’Neill are set to make the trip despite public protests against it.
The Irish Republican Socialist Party had said Irish political leaders should “send a strong message” by rejecting their invitations in protest at the “ongoing actions of the US in supporting, funding and arming the genocide”.
“The US are complicit in these Zionist actions and Irish political leaders, especially those who consider themselves as pro-Palestine and anti-imperialist such as Mary Lou McDonald, must reject their invites as a strong show of solidarity for not only Palestine but that US global actions are not acceptable,” she said.
The Irish-Palestine Solidarity Campaign have called on all Irish politicians not to travel to Washington “this, or any other” St. Patrick’s Day, describing the Biden administration as “enablers, supporters, facilitators of, and active partners in” Israel’s genocide in Gaza.
Former republican MP Bernadette Devlin drew cheers from a crowd of over 100,000 people at last week’s national demonstration in Dublin when she said no candidate going to Washington should get a vote at the next election. But Ms O’Neill confirmed that her party would be sending representatives.
She said: “We are going to the US in pursuit of peace, continuing to work with the Irish diaspora and US representatives to promote and strengthen the support for the peace process at home and Irish reunification.
“We will also advocate for an end to the Israeli genocidal war and occupation in Gaza and the West Bank, for the establishment of a peace process in Palestine and self-determination for the Palestinian people.
“In doing so we will fulfil our promise to the Palestinian ambassador and the Palestinian people.”