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'We have known the brutality of colonialism': McDonald calls for ceasefire in Gaza in US speech

The Sinn Féin leader was speaking at an Irish Unity summit in New York.

MARY LOU MCDONALD has called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza, telling a summit in the US that those in the region are enduring “unimaginable suffering”. 

The Sinn Féin leader was delivering a keynote address at an Irish Unity Summit in New York this evening. 

McDonald, along with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, have faced criticism over their planned trips to the White House for St Patrick’s Day, given the support the US is giving Israel.

During her speech, McDonald said the work of peace and nation building in Ireland “cannot happen in splendid isolation”. 

“We have known the brutality of colonialism and dispossession and the pain of conflict. We know the value of peace,” she said.

“Today, the beleaguered, besieged, impoverished refugee population of Gaza endure unimaginable suffering.”

McDonald told the event: “This vicious, criminal onslaught must stop now. Those funding these atrocities must stop now. All hostages must be released.”

“We need an immediate ceasefire and the renewal of a peace process grounded in international law, based on the two-state solution, with the aim of achieving self-determination and statehood for the Palestinians, and a secure Israel,” she added.

Even in the darkest of times, we must seek the light. We must bring the light.

“The success of the Good Friday Agreement teaches us that no conflict is intractable.”


It comes after Tánaiste Micheál Martin accused Sinn Féin of being “silent” and “two-sided” on the Palestine question while in the US . 

During Leaders’ Questions on Thursday, Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy said the Government had failed to support motions to intervene in the case against Israel at the International Court of Justice brought by South Africa. 

Asked by Carthy if the Government would recognise the state of Palestine, Martin said that they had acted to help the people of Palestine, and said Ireland’s Attorney General was before the International Court of Justice to speak about Israeli settlements, a process that began before the 7 October Hamas attack.

“We have not failed to intervene in any case, and you know that deep down, but you’re just playing politics again, unfortunately with it and seeking to divide and try to create this wedge issue, as if you’re more virtuous than anybody else.”

Martin added: “I would respectfully suggest to you have a role too. You’ve been two-sided to the United States.

“You’ve been extraordinarily silent on the Palestinian question in the United States.

“I’ve gone to Washington, I’ve spoken to Senators, and I’ve spoken to some of your friends who challenge me about Ireland’s position in terms of Israel and Palestine. I actually suggested to one or two that they should talk to you.”

Carthy responded: “Sinn Fein take every opportunity with every individual and state of influence to call for an end to Israeli oppression of the people of Palestine.”

The Israeli siege, bombardment and ground invasion of the Gaza strip has now killed more than 30,000 people and aid agencies, including UN officials, have repeatedly warned that famine is imminent.

US President Joe Biden said earlier this week that he was optimistic that a ceasefire deal could be reached by early next week.

However, speaking today, he acknowledged that a prospective deal may have been set back after Israeli troops reportedly fired on a large crowd of Palestinians racing to pull food off the aid convoy on Thursday.

Speaking today, Biden expressed cautious optimism that a deal can still be struck.

“We’ve been working and hopefully we’ll know shortly,” he said.