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Entrance gate of the official residence of the United States Ambassador at the Phoenix Park in Dublin. Alamy Stock Photo
Guess who's not coming to dinner

'It's unconscionable': Politicians to boycott US ambassador’s Christmas party over 'Israeli bombardment'

Not all politicians are in favour, however, with one saying the boycott is an example of “the intolerance of the Left”.

LAST UPDATE | 12 Dec 2023

A PLANNED CHRISTMAS dinner at the US ambassador’s residence tonight is set to be boycotted by several politicians over the country’s backing of Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

People Before Profit and Dublin City Council’s Independent group said it was “unconscionable” to try to “continue the pretence that we can celebrate the holiday season while innocent people” are killed in Gaza by Israel’s onslaught of the region.

PBP called on all members of the Oireachtas to boycott the ambassador’s Christmas party, while the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) called a protest for outside the residence.

An invitation has been extended by the US ambassador Claire Cronin to a ‘Holiday Reception’ in her residence in Phoenix Park.

It’s set to start at 6pm, but opponents have scheduled a protest outside the residence for 5pm as guests make their way into the residence.

When asked by PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett to boycott the event during Leaders’ Questions today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he will not be attending as he has a prior engagement but he said the decision on whether or not to go was one for individuals to make on their own.

The Taoiseach will instead be attending a Christmas carol service in Maynooth seminary this evening.

It is also understood that Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin will not be attending as he also has a prior engagement.

Labour TDs said earlier today that no one from their party will attend tonight’s event either.

Meanwhile however, Fine Gael TD and former Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan told The Journal that although he is not going, he believes this is “another example of the intolerance of the Left.”

“Dialogue and direct face-to-face contact is always preferable to boycott,” he said.

“Some of the most vocal against the function have not even been invited. Diplomacy is a most valuable tool in international relations. This boycott call is the latest example of the intolerance of the Irish Left.

“God help us if they are ever in power,” he added.

The Union of Students in Ireland will join the protest this evening, alongside activists from Action for Palestine Ireland, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Saoirse don Phalastín and Dublin 15 for Palestine.

DCC’s Independent group said that rather than attending the ambassador’s dinner, it would instead use the opportunity to “highlight US complicity in the genocidal Israeli bombardment in Gaza”, and further criticised the US vetoing a United Nations proposal for a ceasefire last week.

“It’s unconscionable that anyone would argue against a ceasefire in such a horrific situation knowing that the decision is a guarantee of further deaths of innocent children, women and men,” the Independents said.

The councillors who refusing to attend include Christy Burke, Pat Dunne, Mannix Flynn, Vincent Jackson, John Lyons, Sophie Nicoullaud, Damian O’Farrell, Cieran Perry, Noeleen Reilly and Nial Ring.

“Doctors without Borders has said the US veto of the UN resolution makes it complicit in the carnage in Gaza.”

Independent group leader on DCC Ciaren Perry said it reiterates calls for an immediate ceasefire and for the release of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

“With the death toll at over 17,000 and rising, we must take every opportunity to highlight the continuing massacre of children, women and men,” Perry said.

The Independent group, comprises 10 councillors, were part of the group behind having the Palestinian flag flown above City Hall last week as a sign of solidarity with people in Gaza.

Councillor Sophie Nicoullaud said contrasted Cronin’s invite to “celebrate the joys of the season” while Israel continues to “slaughter innocent civilians with the support of the US”.

Veteran councillor and former Lord Mayor Christy Burke said that rather than the American government using its influence with Israel to stop the “indiscriminate slaughter in Gaza”, “the opposite” has happened with last Friday’s vetoing of the UN call for a ceasefire.

As a result, Burke said, “It’s no time to celebrate with the ambassador.”

PBP’s Dublin South-Central TD Bríd Smith also called on all members of the Oireachtas to boycott the US Ambassador’s ‘Holiday Reception’ at the US Residence in the Phoenix Park, on Tuesday December 12.

Smith said that TDs and Senators who would have received the invitation should not attend the event in solidarity with the people of Gaza who are undergoing an “ongoing brutal bombardment” by the Israeli military, adding the attacks amounted to “genocide and ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians.

“I will not be attending out of solidarity with the people of Gaza and the West Bank who are undergoing intense and appalling atrocities by the IDF and illegal settlers, with the backing of the United States,” she said.

Jim Roche, spokesperson for the IAWM said that if the “Irish Government is serious about getting a ceasefire in Gaza, then it should instruct all their TDs to boycott this event.”

He said this would send a clear message to the US government that its continued support for this “barbarous, genocidal Israeli onslaught in Gaza” is not supported in Ireland.

He added that US president Joe Biden and all of the US Government have the “blood of innocent Gazans, including 10,000 children, on their hands” due to the war.

“Irish TDs must not condone the US Government’s part in Israel’s genocidal violence so they should stay away from this Christmas event at the US Ambassador’s residence,” Roche said.

With reporting from Jane Matthews.

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