Northern Ireland

SDLP confirms full Washington boycott for St Patrick’s week in Gaza protest

The party had already announced it would be staying away from the White House but had originally still planned to send a delegation to the US capital.

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

The SDLP has said it will not be sending any party representatives to Washington for St Patrick’s Day due to the conflict in Gaza.

The party had already announced a boycott of celebratory St Patrick’s events at the White House in protest at the situation in the Middle East and the US administration’s support for Israel, but it was still planning to send a delegation to Washington to raise its concerns.

Announcing the plan in January, the party said its delegation would “engage with senior lawmakers, Irish Americans and Palestinian Americans to make the case for an end to violence”.

However, party leader Colum Eastwood has confirmed the party is no longer planning to send a delegation.

“The situation in Gaza has continued to deteriorate,” he said.

“More children have been killed, communities obliterated and thousands of people displaced as a result of this horrifying conflict. And now, during the holy month of Ramadan, we have clear warnings that starvation is being used as a weapon of war against the Palestinian people.

“In those circumstances, the SDLP’s decision not to attend celebratory events at the White House remains. We cannot drink Guinness and have the craic while people in Gaza continue to be persecuted.

“As a result of the decline in the situation the SDLP will not send any representatives to Washington DC this week.

“We understand that our action is symbolic and is unlikely to force a change in US foreign policy but it is the right thing to do and, we believe, the most powerful step we can take to highlight the inhumanity in Gaza.

“I sincerely hope that the international community wakes up and escalates its interventions to end the genocide, including by securing aid routes to prevent mass starvation.

“This is a stain on the international order that must be addressed soon.”