Tánaiste Micheál Martin accuses Sinn Féin of being ‘silent on Palestine in the US’

‘If the world doesn’t take a stand there will be no Palestine left to recognise,’ Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy said.

Tanaiste Micheal Martin speaking at Government Buildings, Dublin as the Irish Government is to announce hundreds of millions of euro in funding for cross-border projects. Picture date: Tuesday February 20, 2024.
Cross-border projects Tánaiste Micheál Martin accused Sinn Féin of being silent on Palestine (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Féin has been accused of being “silent” and “two-sided” on the Palestine question while in the US by the Tánaiste.

Micheál Martin also denied accusations from Sinn Féin and said that the Republic hadn’t failed to intervene in any legal case on the conflict in the Middle East.

He condemned the “unacceptable and extraordinary” situation facing people in Gaza.

The death toll since the start of the Israel-Hamas has risen to more than 30,000, with another 70,457 wounded.

The UN said that a quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians face starvation and around 80% have fled their homes.

The Hamas attack in southern Israel that ignited the war killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the militants seized around 250 hostages.

Hamas and other militants are still holding around 100 hostages and the remains of about 30 more, after releasing most of the other captives during a November ceasefire.

The increasing alarm over hunger across Gaza has fuelled international calls for another ceasefire, and the US, Egypt and Qatar are working to secure a deal between Israel and Hamas for a pause in fighting and the release of some of the hostages.

Mediators hope to reach an agreement before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts around March 10.

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy said: “What Israel is doing on a daily basis is barbaric.

“You previously failed to support motions calling on Ireland to intervene in the case against Israel at the International Court of Justice brought by South Africa.

“Can I ask you, do you accept that what is happening in Gaza is genocide because the evidence is crystal clear?

“Will you recognise the state of Palestine? No more excuses. Israel is attempting to bomb Palestine out of existence.

“If the world doesn’t take a stand there will be no Palestine left to recognise.”

Mr Martin said that they had acted to help the people of Palestine, and said the Republic’s Attorney General was before the International Court of Justice to speak about Israeli settlements, a process that began before the October 7 Hamas attack.

“We’ve used every political, financial, diplomatic measure that we possibly can and humanitarian to help the people of Gaza and help the people of Palestine.”

He added: “We have not failed to intervene in any case. And you know that deep down but you’re just playing politics again, unfortunately with it and seeking to divide and try to create this wedge issue, as if you’re more virtuous than anybody else.

“South Africa itself has not filed the memorial on that case yet. They will probably in two or three months when they have it ready.”

Mr Martin added: “I would respectfully suggest to you have a role too. You’ve been two-sided to the United States.

“You’ve been extraordinarily silent on the Palestinian question in the United States.

“I’ve gone to Washington, I’ve spoken to Senators, and I’ve spoken to some of your friends who challenge me about Ireland’s position in terms of Israel and Palestine. I actually suggested to one or two that they should talk to you.

Mr Carthy responded: “Sinn Féin take every opportunity with every individual and state of influence to call for an end to Israeli oppression of the people of Palestine.”

Mr Martin said that the Arab states are “very close” to concluding a peace initiative, which the Republic had been briefed on.

Mr Martin suggested that the Republic and EU nations may move to recognise a Palestinian state when an administration is in place to run the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“There’s no issue in Ireland in terms of recognition, but I think it does merit consideration at least, I will put it to you any sensible person watching would say, let’s use it in the most optimal way possible for the benefit of the Palestinian people and that moment is not too far away.”