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white house visit

Boycotting St Patrick’s trip to US over Gaza ‘doesn’t make sense’, says Tánaiste

Ireland believes in dialogue and engaging with countries, Micheal Martin has said.

BOYCOTTING THE ST Patrick’s Day trip to Washington over America’s support for Israel would not make sense, according to the Tánaiste Micheál Martin. 

Speaking on his way into Cabinet this morning, he said it is important to have engagement on such matters.

“That doesn’t make sense. You have to engage.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is due to make the trip stateside in March for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations. McDonald also travels to the US and Washington DC annually to mark the event. 

Martin told reporters today: 

“The only way to increase pressure, the only way you can get a resolution on this is to get international pressure that is so overwhelming that there is a stop to the violence.

“It is clear that the US administration is now seeking to not only get an end to violence, but also to create political track to ensure that there is a Palestinian state, that we get a two-state solution to this.

“People take this very seriously and people are very worried about what is happening in the Middle East, not least because too many citizens are being killed and too many children are being killed, but also regional escalation is happening.

“We have the Houthis firing missiles at unarmed merchant ships, disrupting trade and economy. We are worried about what could in Lebanon. This could get much worse and therefore everyone is seized by the gravity what is happening in Palestine.

The idea that Ireland would just retreat from any engagement to me doesn’t make sense. I don’t subscribe to that view. We believe dialogue and engaging with countries.

Calls for White House visit boycott

His comments come after last week’s calls from People Before Profit for all Irish politicians, including the Taoiseach and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald to boycott the trip stateside this year. 

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said last week that the Irish government boycotting the St Patrick’s Day trip to the White House would be a message that would be sent around the world. 

He sid the Taoiseach presenting th bowl of shamrock to the US President is “enormously symbolic”, stating that the event should not happen this year given that the US is the number one supporter of Israel in the conflict against Palestine. 

The Sinn Féin leader told The Journal in December that she would not be in favour of boycotting the St Patrick’s Day visit to the White House over US support for Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

When asked if the situation carries on into the new year, and the US continues its support for Israel’s bombardment of Palestine, would she be supportive of calls to boycott the traditional St Patrick’s Day visit to Washington DC, she said: 

“I think you need to be very careful about any idea of boycotting, the Irish relationship with the United States is a very long standing one, a very valuable one, on many, many dimensions.

I don’t think boycotting an event like that would resolve the issue at hand in the Middle East.

“I think we need to be clear that that relationship for us is valuable, not least in terms of the evolution of our own peace process. But I certainly accept, and I have no doubt that the American system, if you listen to President Biden recently, he has acknowledged himself that Israel has lost the world.

“They have lost world opinion, for the simple reason that that no reasoned person, irrespective of the political spectrum they’re on, could witness that. Just stop, this has to stop. 

“So I don’t think anybody should imagine that anybody in the American system is in any way confused about the Sinn Féin stance as regards Palestine, or indeed the Irish stance, the Irish public opinion on Palestine. And it’s interesting, if you look stateside, it’s different now. American public opinion is in a different place than it would have been saying a decade ago on this on this question,” said the Dublin Central TD. 

McDonald said she spoke to the US ambassador to Ireland “quite recently” and other US officials where “the issue of Palestine did come up”.

“They know full well our analysis. I’m not shy about sharing it with them… America is very much on the right side of things in terms of the Irish peace process. I would like to see the United States very much on the right side of building peace in the Middle East,” she said.

With reporting by Press Association