Northern Ireland

St Patrick’s Day White House snub would have ‘enormous’ global impact, TD says

Public meeting in Belfast hears condemnation over Irish leaders meeting US President

People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett also drew a comparison with the Government’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Brian Lawless/PA)
People Before Profit-Solidarity TD Richard Boyd Barrett. PICTURE: BRIAN LAWLESS/PA

Irish leaders snubbing the White House on St Patrick’s Day over Gaza would have an “enormous impact”, a TD has insisted.

Richard Boyd Barrett told a public meeting in Belfast on Monday evening that party leaders refusing to meet US President Joe Biden this weekend would “pile on pressure” over Washington’s stance on Israel’s conflict in Gaza.

The People Before Profit–Solidarity TD spoke at the gathering at Queen’s University, and condemned Irish politicians who are planning to attend the traditional St Patrick’s Day reception at the White House.

Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will attend the event, amid calls for a boycott over US support for Israel.

The SDLP has said it will not attend the reception, but will attend other events with groups in Washington, including senior law makers and Palestinian-Americans “to make the case for an end to violence”.

Sinn Féin’s president Mary Lou McDonald and Stormont First Minister Michelle O’Neill will attend the reception, but the party has said it will “use every political and diplomatic opportunity and influence that we have to be a voice for Palestine, to demand an end to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, for Palestinian statehood and for a permanent ceasefire”.

Mr Boyd-Barrett, who represents Dún Laoghaire, told the Belfast event, titled Palestine, Imperialism and Revolution, people would find it “beyond revolting” to hear justification for politicians to meet Mr Biden.

“Imagine the impact if they said it is absolutely unacceptable to us that we could celebrate our national day while standing in the White House,” he said of party representatives.

“Imagine the impact that would have globally. It would have an absolutely enormous impact.”

He added of the US: “When they are under pressure, our job is to pile on that pressure. They are seriously vulnerable to it.”