Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald Alamy Stock Photo
israel-hamas war

Mary Lou McDonald says position of Israeli Ambassador to Ireland is now 'untenable'

McDonald’s comments have been welcomed by opposition TDs in People Before Profit and the Social Democrats.

SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT Mary Lou McDonald has said the position of the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland is now untenable and said the Ambassador should “no longer enjoy diplomatic status in Ireland”. 

Her comments come following remarks made by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar earlier in which he said Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not just self-defence but “resembles something more approaching revenge”.

McDonald said she agrees with the Taoiseach’s comments this morning and said the Ambassador should no longer enjoy diplomatic status in Ireland while Israel refuses to engage in a ceasefire.

“I share his view that Israeli actions are offensive and constitute collective punishment,” she said. 

“The sheer scale of this belligerence, collective punishment and the devastating loss of life is horrifying with more than 9,000 civilians killed and tens of thousands injured.

“This is happening before the eyes of the world, and it must be confronted. Unconditional ceasefires are urgently required,” McDonald said.

Her statement has been welcomed by opposition People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy, who said on X (formerly Twitter) that he hopes to now work with Sinn Féin to propose a motion in the Dáil to expel the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, Dana Erlich.

People Before Profit has been putting pressure on Sinn Féin to support calls to expel the ambassador, writing an open-letter to the party’s membership asking it to back actions to “stop the genocide in Palestine”.

The letter said that Sinn Féin “as the largest party in Ireland with recognised ties to the US establishment, are well placed to make demand for sanctions”.

Murphy told The Journal that while expelling the Ambassador wouldn’t have an impact on the war directly, it would send a signal around the world that Europe is not united behind the approach of head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

He also said that fears of negative consequences should be limited as Ireland is already not treated as an ally by Israel.

Similarly, Social Democrats’ TD Gary Gannon told The Journal that his party has continued to support calls for the Ambassador to be expelled since first tabling it in 2021.

“What we’ve seen in the last three weeks only further strengthens that call,” Gannon said.

In relation to a potential cross-party motion calling on the Ambassador to be expelled, Gannon said the Social Democrats would be open to having a conversation, but that the onus is on the Government to act now.

However, the Taoiseach has been firm that Ireland will not expel any ambassador. 

Speaking in the Dáil last month, he noted that Ireland did not expel the Russian ambassador in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and said “we have no plans to expel any ambassador.”

“If you expel an ambassador or close an embassy, the only line of communication is minister to minister or Sec Gen to Sec Gen, and that’s if you can even get a phone call.

“We have citizens in Palestine, we have citizens in Israel, we have citizens in Russia, it’s important that we’re able to keep those lines of communication open. It serves nothing to close them,” the Taoiseach said.

He added: “Even countries at war with each other have ambassadors, for obvious reasons.” 

Opposition TDs expressed concern over comments made by Erlich recently in which she said President Michael D Higgins was repeating “misinformation” in relation to the Israel-Hamas war.

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said in the Dáil recently that this and a now-deleted social media post by a senior staff member of the embassy – in which the diplomat suggested Ireland was funding Hamas – are examples of the need to hear from the Government on Ireland’s approach to Gaza at international level.