Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin Leah Farrell/
israel-hamas war

Ó Broin says Sinn Féin's u-turn on Israeli ambassador due to situation getting 'worse and worse'

He rejected that the move was due to pressure from People Before Profit or Sinn Féin party activists.

SINN FÉIN TD and Housing Spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has defended the party’s u-turn on expelling the Israeli ambassador and said it was not because of external or internal pressure.

Ó Broin said the change in position took place because the situation in Gaza has gotten “worse and worse and worse”. 

He said Sinn Féin wants the diplomatic status of the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, Dana Erilch suspended until a ceasefire is implemented between Israel and Hamas.

Last week, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald 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 remarks came within days of McDonald defending Sinn Féin’s position on not calling for the expulsion of the Ambassador on X, formerly Twitter. 

When asked by a user of X why the party was not calling for the Israeli Ambassador to be expelled, McDonald responded:

“The most urgent call is for #CeasefireNOW that call is the unfied powerful demand worldwide. There should be no distractions from this demand. Sanction demands will no doubt follow if ceasefires not achieved.”

During this time, People Before Profit had also written an open-letter to Sinn Féin’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”.

When asked today by a reporter if the party’s change in position was due to this pressure, Ó Broin said: “it’s not as simple as you make it sound.”

He said the change in approach came from a “constant reviewing of the situation”.

“We took a decision, particularly in the first week in the aftermath of Hamas’ brutal attack on Israeli civilians and citizens on October 7 to put the focus on the call for a ceasefire, particularly as the death toll in Gaza mounted.

“And what we wanted was to try and reach the maximum degree of unanimity here in the Oireachtas, working with the Government and other opposition parties to get that call. I think what changed is the situation has got worse and worse and worse.

“We’re now in a situation where as you know, over 10,000 people are dead in the Gaza strip, over 4,000 children,” Ó Broin said.

He added that the change of approach came about after McDonald met with Oireachtas members, Northern Ireland Assembly members and the party’s international department in Belfast last week. 

“The party makes decisions democratically. I know that is sometimes hard for some people to accept but we take decisions on a democratic basis.

“And also as the situation changes, we’re entitled to change and advance our position,” Ó Broin said.

Hamas relationship

Ó Broin said Sinn Féin does not have a relationship with Hamas but accepted that a spokesperson for Hamas spoke virtually at a Sinn Féin event in 2020. 

When asked if Sinn Féin would have Hamas at any future events, Ó Broin responded: “Hamas isn’t an organisation we have a relationship with and certainly after the events of October 7, no we wouldn’t.”

On whether the change in policy position was in any way influenced by the open-letter written by People Before Profit Ó Broin said “never in my entire political life have I been directed in my decision making by People Before Profit.”

Today, People Before Profit TDs have again called for economic sanctions to be imposed on Israel in response to the country’s bombing of Gaza following Hamas’ attack on October 7. 

Ó Broin was asked where Sinn Féin now stand on economic sanctions against Israel and said “all of those things are being kept under review”. 

“For example, if this conflict continues, if we see even more civilians and children killed, even more doctors, journalists, health workers, united nation workers, clearly then we’ll decide our position at that point in time,” he said.

Meanwhile, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett today called on the Government to take a case, either alone or in partnership with other governments such as Spain, against Israel for war crimes and genocide to the International Criminal Court.