Boycotting St Patrick’s trip to US over Gaza ‘doesn’t make sense’ – Martin

Boycotting St Patrick’s Trip To Us Over Gaza ‘Doesn’t Make Sense’ – Martin
Micheal Martin, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Cate McCurry and Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

The Tánaiste has said it would not make sense to boycott the St Patrick’s Day trip to Washington over US support for Israel, stating: “You have to engage.”

Tánaiste Micheál Martin also said that Ireland had not yet decided whether to join South Africa’s legal case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.


Mr Martin said that it had not yet assessed South Africa’s legal case for accusing Israel of genocide over its actions in the Gaza Strip.

He said that once the preliminary stages at the ICJ had concluded he hoped South Africa would share the details of their case with other countries so that Ireland can assess whether to join.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned previously that Ireland does “not intend” to join South Africa’s case, and there is a need to “be very careful” of accusing a Jewish state of genocide.


He said: “I would just think we need to be a little bit careful about using words like that unless we’re absolutely convinced that they’re the appropriate ones.”

Irish charity Trócaire on Tuesday urged Ireland to assess itself whether there is a risk that genocide is being committed in Gaza.

It said assessing this risk is “a first step” towards fulfilling Ireland’s duty under the 1948 Genocide Convention.


The charity also called on Ireland to publicly support South Africa’s call for interim measures, such as a suspension of Israel’s military operations in Gaza.

Asked about South Africa’s case at the ICJ, Mr Martin said: “It’s important to make that point, no-one has joined because no-one can right now.

“That misinformation has gathered that somehow we haven’t joined. Nobody has joined.”

Asked on his way into Cabinet in Dublin on Tuesday, he said that it was not Ireland’s “original position” that it would not support the case.

“Nobody has joined because preliminary recommendations must be made following submission of case by South Africa. We will support the court.

“I think it makes sense for the court to make its preliminary findings, then South Africa make the substantive case, I presume it will share that with other countries. We will consider that and form a basis for both a decision to join but also if you were to join, what we would the basis be?”

“We take our international responsibilities seriously in respect of legal submissions, we’ve already made a very substantive legal submission in respect of the occupation of the West Bank… these are very serious legal submissions one makes, they’re not done for political reasons, they’re done in the context of the law.”

Air strike in Gaza
People fleeing an air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip (AP)

Asked whether Ireland should boycott the traditional trip to the White House for St Patrick’s Day, Mr Martin said: “That doesn’t make sense. You have to engage.

“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.”

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