Northern Ireland

No decision from SDLP on White House invitation as Sinn Féin faces backlash from pro-Palestine campaigners

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on funding for Ukraine from the Roosevelt Room of the White House (Evan Vucci/AP)
President Joe Biden is expected to invite Irish politicians to the White House for St Patrick's Day. PICTURE: EVAN VUCCI/PA

The SDLP has yet to make a decision on whether the party will boycott the White House on St Patrick’s Day amid the continued Israeli bombardment of Gaza.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill confirmed earlier this week that party representatives will make the annual Washington DC trip in “pursuit of peace”.

The party’s decision has been met with criticism from pro-Palestinian campaigners.

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll said Sinn Féin’s plan to join the celebrations at the White House was a “violation of the most basic demands of the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against Israel”.

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
n People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll. PICTURE: CLIFF DONALDSON

He claimed the Sinn Féin decision “will be opposed by many rank and file Sinn Féin members”, who he urged to challenge the party leadership on the issue.

Cork comedian Tadhg Hickey, who described himself as a “lifelong Sinn Féin voter”, said he was appalled by the decision.

A Sinn Féin spokesperson said successive US administrations had played a key role in the Irish peace process and that the party’s message was “that they need to adopt the same approach in relation to Palestine”.

The SDLP declined to comment on the party’s plans. In common with Sinn Féin, a decision to accept an invitation to the White House would likely prove unpopular with the its base.