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Mary Lou McDonald 'Leo asked where I was in the Dáil yesterday. I'm in Palestine observing the daily abuse they face'

Yesterday, the Taoiseach asked why the Sinn Féin leader was not in the chamber.

IN THE DÁIL yesterday, the Taoiseach asked where I was. 

I am in Palestine. I am with the Palestinian people and observing at first hand the abuse they face on a daily basis. I am here to witness the Israeli government’s breaches of international law. 

We are here because there is a link between the Irish people and the Palestinians.

We are Irish Republicans and we are internationalist. We stand with the Palestinians just as others stood with the Irish people. 

I have been here since Monday with my MLA colleagues Declan Kearney and Pat Sheehan.

We will share with Palestinian leaders our experiences of building peace and offer advice and solidarity with the Palestinian people. The invitation from the Palestinian Legislative Council is a reflection of the close links between Ireland and Palestine. 

The Irish people know the cost of conflict, we have paid it throughout our history. 

The peace that we now enjoy was brought about with the help of the international community and with the support of progressive movements across the globe. 

On Tuesday, I had the honour of visiting and laying a wreath at the Mausoleum of Yasser Arafat. The former Palestinian leader helped to secure the peace agreement in Europe that was supposed to lead to the two state solution.

Since his death the Israeli military has continued to brutalise the Palestinian people and to build illegal settlements on Palestinian land.

This repression by the Israeli State and intensification of the settlement strategy across the West Bank is in direct violation of successive international laws and United Nations resolutions.

There is an urgent need for a new international initiative to uphold the rights of the Palestinian people to a peaceful and democratic homeland.

The only way forward is through a credible peace process and roadmap towards a viable independent Palestinian state and I have appealed to all Palestinian groups to work together to build national unity.

Instead for demeaning the Office, the Taoiseach should focus on the roll of the Ireland in standing up for the small nations and oppressed people. 

While the Taoiseach may want to turn a blind eye to the plight of the Palestinians the Irish people do not.

I believe that Ireland can and must play a meaningful in resolving the conflict in Palestine and securing a two state solution.

That must include the Taoiseach enacting the resolution that was unanimously backed by the Dáil to recognise the State of Palestine. That means the government supporting the Occupied Territories Bill.   

As a Republican I stand with the dispossessed and discriminated at home and abroad, and so should the Taoiseach.

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