Northern Ireland

Republic must play ‘leading role’ in helping creation of Palestinian state following recognition

Political figures have reacted to the Republic’s recognition of Palestinian statehood

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. (Niall Carson/PA)

The recognition of Palestinian statehood by the Republic “must be the first step” in Ireland playing a leading global role in helping its creation, Sinn Féin has said.

Party President Mary Lou McDonald said the announcement by the Irish Government to recognise the State of Palestine comes almost a decade after the Dáil unanimously supported a motion by Sinn Fein calling for the same.

Ms McDonald said Ireland “is a small nation but we punch above our weight when it comes to influence at both European level and with the United States”.

“We have a role to play in acting decisively and using every avenue available to bring about a ceasefire, and to hold the Israeli regime accountable for its war crimes,” she said.

“The recognition of Palestinian Statehood by Ireland must be the first step in the government playing a leading international role in assisting the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.”

Her party’s vice-president and Stormont first minister Michelle O’Neill said in a social media post that Ireland would “continue to stand up for the rights and freedom of the Palestinian people”.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the recognition “generates further momentum” towards a two-state solution to conflict in the region.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood. (Oliver McVeigh/PA)

“A sustainable peace must begin with recognition of the legitimate aspirations and rights of both peoples in the eyes of the international community,” said the Foyle MP.

“A peace process, as far off as that may feel right now, will only succeed if the people of Israel and Palestine are equal partners. Today’s decision is an honest reflection of that unavoidable truth.”

However, the DUP’s Ian Paisley Jr, dismissed the recognition as “electioneering” by the taoiseach that would “only play into the hands of extremist, anti-Jewish and anti-Israel factions”.

The North Antrim MP said: “It has taken the Irish state over 90 years to recognise Palestine. One can only view that this is about electioneering and appealing to the extreme elements in Irish society to come back and support the so-called centrist parties.”

People Before Profit West Belfast MLA Gerry Carroll said the recognition followed “months of genocide” in Gaza.

“This represents at least some progress from a government that has refused to introduce real, concrete sanctions against Israel amid the genocide in Gaza,” he said.

Former UUP MP Lord Kilclooney was among those to welcome the move on X.

“I welcome the decision of the Republic of Ireland to recognise the state of Palestine,” he said

“The best way forward is a two state solution with Israel and Palestine recognising each other.”

Seanad Éireann member and folk singer Frances Black said the recognition was “historic” and she was “so proud to be Irish .

“I hope this step brings some hope to the Palestinian people and will lead to further action by our government against the Israeli apartheid regime,” she wrote, adding it was a “day of hope and solidarity with the Palestinian people”.