Dáil suspended after protesters interrupt statements on Palestine

Dáil Suspended After Protesters Interrupt Statements On Palestine
The group of demonstrators, who were sitting in the public gallery, got to their feet and chanted pro-Palestinian messages. Photo: Collins
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By Cate McCurry and Grainne Ni Aodha, PA

The Dáil was suspended after protesters inside the chamber interrupted statements on Palestine to call for sanctions to be imposed on Israel.

The group of demonstrators, who were sitting in the public gallery, got to their feet and chanted pro-Palestinian messages.


It came as politicians were making statements in the Dáil following Ireland’s formal recognition of the Palestinian state.

One man held up a sign that said “divest”, while another person carried a Palestinian flag.

The protesters chanted “stop arming Israel”, “sanctions now” and “close Shannon (airport) to the US military”.


Security staff in Leinster House removed around nine demonstrators who waved the Palestinian flag and called for immediate sanctions against Israel.

The demonstrators spent some minutes chanting at the politicians who had gathered in the Dáil to make statements in support of Palestine and to condemn the ongoing attacks in Gaza.

A number of Palestinian people were also watching from the public gallery, including Palestine’s ambassador to Ireland Dr Jilan Wahba Abdalmajid. They were not involved in the brief demonstration.

Earlier, Taoiseach Simon Harris said there is an onus on every country and on the European Union “to use every lever at our disposal” to bring about a ceasefire in Gaza.


In a statement to the parliament as Ireland formally recognises the state of Palestine, Mr Harris said: “I welcome the decision of the Belgian presidency to convene a meeting on the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

“The human rights clauses in that agreement are and must be meaningful and when they’re not being adhered to, that too must have consequences.

“We need to look at all the levers at our disposal to bring about a cessation of violence before Netanyahu’s next tragic mistake.

“Formal recognition of the State of Palestine here today is an act of powerful, political and symbolic value. I hope it sends the Palestinian people a message of hope that in this, their darkest hour, Ireland stands with them.


Israel-Hamas conflict
Members of the public take photographs as the flag of Palestine flies outside Leinster House in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

“It is an expression of our view that Palestine holds and should be able to vindicate the full rights of the state, including self-determination, self-governance, territorial integrity and security, as well as recognising Palestine’s own obligations under international law.”

Mr Harris said that generations of Palestinians have endured occupation, dehumanisation and humiliation.

“In today’s West Bank we see an extreme form of Zionism fuel settler violence and appropriation of land, illegal actions that largely go unchecked,” he added.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said he is confident other European countries will join Ireland, Norway and Spain in their recognition of the state of Palestine.

“It has long been my view that recognising Palestine would be most impactful if done in a co-ordinated manner with other partners,” Mr Martin told the Dáil.

“That we have taken the decision to recognise the state of Palestine together with Norway and Spain – and in the wider context of a regional peace initiative – is important.

“I am confident that there is a growing consensus among like-minded partners that Palestinian statehood can no longer wait until the end of a process of final settlement negotiations between the parties.

“I anticipate that other European partners may decide to recognise Palestine in the coming weeks and months.

“The challenge now is to maintain this momentum. We need a fundamental paradigm shift in the way all of us in the international community view the solution to this conflict. We need urgency and we need concrete steps.

“We have said many times that an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of hostages and full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access are essential. That remains essential and we will not rest until we have achieved this.”

Mr Martin was also critical of the Israeli government reaction to Ireland’s decision to recognise the Palestinian state.

Last week, ambassador Sonya McGuinness was summoned to the Israeli foreign affairs ministry and reprimanded over Ireland’s decision.

As proceedings started, Ms McGuinness was shown footage of Hamas that Israel claimed was filmed on October 7th.

Mr Martin said the treatment of Ms McGuinness “fell far short of what we would expect from any country, irrespective of our political differences”.

“I have and will continue to treat Israel’s ambassador to Ireland with professional courtesy and respect. I expect the same in return. We wish to maintain functional diplomatic engagement and dialogue with Israel,” he added.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said he shares the frustration of the Jewish community of the “one-sided approach” that some people are taking to the conflict on the Middle East.

“Let me also reiterate to Israel: the Irish people recognise your rights to exist as a nation, recognising Palestine does not in any way diminish your rights as a state, in fact it is the opposite,” he said.

“Our dearest wish is that establishment of a Palestinian state solidifies your existence and allows you to prosper and flourish in peace and harmony with your neighbours.

“I particularly want to offer reassurance to Jewish friends living here in Ireland, the last seven months have not been easy, and many may feel that there is a change in attitude towards them or people of their religion.

“We need to assure them they are welcome here, they belong here, they are as Irish as all of us.

“Long may Ireland be a home to Jewish people so they can continue their outstanding contribution to our nation in art, in science, in business and in politics. This house has benefited so much from people from our Jewish community.

“I share their frustration at the one-sided approach that some people take to the conflict. That some would appear to think that Israel’s government’s appalling actions mean they can be silent on Hamas’s atrocities – I do not.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that Palestinians in Gaza are enduring “horror on an unimaginable scale”.

Ms McDonald told Ireland’s parliament that world leaders “continue to draw a false equivalence between the impoverished occupied and the oppressive occupier”.

She accused Israel of “brazenly, repeatedly breaking” international law, adding: “Palestine is a nation threatened by annihilation.”


The Dublin TD added: “The world was always going to face a moment of reckoning on Palestine, and as Israel continues its brutal onslaught on the refugee population of Gaza and launch horrific madness and attacks on Rafah, I believe the moment of reckoning is now.

“Recognition of the Palestinian state can’t be the end, it has to be just the beginning: a new departure in pursuing freedom and justice for the Palestinians.”

Labour’s Aodhan O Riordain said that the EU can and must act further by suspending its trade agreement with Israel.

He said: “The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner with 32% of Israel’s imports coming from the EU and the Irish government can send a further message of solidarity by passing the Occupied Territories Bill to ban any goods and services produced in Israeli-occupied settlements in the West Bank.

“However, the reality is that there is one man with unparalleled influence to bring the disaster in Gaza to an end. His name is Joe Biden and he has to do better.

“We know things about peace processes in this country. We know that if there is to be peace it has to be premised in the absence of violence.

“We know that if there has to be peace, there has to be compromise. We know that if there is to be peace then one side cannot win absolutely.”

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