Dáil suspended after protesters interrupted speeches on Palestine

The Dáil meeting was suspended after protesters in the chamber interrupted speeches on Palestine, calling for sanctions against Israel.

A group of protesters who had been sitting in the public gallery stood up and chanted pro-Palestinian messages.

The ruling came as politicians made statements in the Dáil following Ireland’s formal recognition of the Palestinian state.

One man held a sign saying “withdraw” while another person carried a Palestinian flag.

Protesters chanted “stop arming Israel”, “sanctions now” and “close Shannon (airport) to the US military”.

Security staff at Leinster House removed about nine protesters who were waving a Palestinian flag and calling for immediate sanctions against Israel.

Demonstrators spent several minutes chanting at politicians who had gathered in the Dáil to make statements in support of Palestine and condemning the ongoing attacks in Gaza.

Many Palestinians also looked on from the public gallery, including the Palestinian ambassador to Ireland, Dr. Jilan Wahba Abdalmajid. They did not take part in the short demonstration.

Earlier, Prime Minister Simon Harris said it was the responsibility of every country and the European Union to “use every lever at our disposal” to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza.

In a statement to parliament on the occasion of Ireland’s formal recognition of the State of Palestine, Harris said: “I welcome the decision of the Belgian Presidency to convene a meeting on the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

“The human rights clauses in this agreement are and must matter, and if they are not respected, this must also have consequences.

“We must look at all the levers at our disposal to end the violence before Netanyahu makes another tragic mistake.

“Formal recognition of the State of Palestine here today is an act of powerful political and symbolic value. I hope this sends a message of hope to the Palestinian people that in this darkest hour Ireland will be with them.

Israel-Hamas conflict
Residents take photos as the Palestinian flag flies outside Leinster House in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

“It is an expression of our view that Palestine has and should be able to assert the full rights of a state, including self-determination, self-governance, territorial integrity and security, as well as recognition of Palestine’s own obligations under international law.”

Harris said generations of Palestinians have experienced occupation, dehumanization and humiliation.

“In today’s West Bank, we see an extreme form of Zionism fueling settler violence and land grabs, illegal activities that go largely unchecked,” he added.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin expressed confidence that other European countries would join Ireland, Norway and Spain in recognizing the State of Palestine.

“I have long believed that recognition of Palestine would have the greatest impact if it was done in a coordinated way with other partners,” Martin told the Dáil.

“It is important that we have taken the decision to recognize the State of Palestine together with Norway and Spain – and in the broader context of a regional peace initiative.

“I am confident that there is a growing consensus among like-minded partners that Palestinian statehood can no longer wait until the negotiation process for a final agreement between the parties is completed.

“I anticipate that in the coming weeks and months other European partners may decide to recognize Palestine.

“The challenge now is to maintain this momentum. We need a fundamental paradigm shift in the way we all, as an international community, view the resolution of this conflict. We need urgency and concrete steps.

“We have said many times that an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of the hostages and full, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access are essential. This is still important and we will not stop until we achieve it.”

Martin was also critical of the Israeli government’s response to Ireland’s decision to recognize the Palestinian state.

Last week, Ambassador Sonya McGuinness was summoned to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and reprimanded over Ireland’s decision.

At the start of the proceedings, Ms McGuinness was shown footage of Hamas, which Israel said was filmed on October 7.

Mr Martin said Ms McGuinness’s treatment was “significantly different from what we would expect from any country, regardless of political differences”.

“I have and will continue to treat the Israeli ambassador to Ireland with professional courtesy and respect. I expect the same in return. We want to maintain functional diplomatic engagement and dialogue with Israel,” he added.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said he shared the Jewish community’s frustration with the “one-sided approach” some people are taking to the conflict in the Middle East.

“Let me also repeat to Israel: the Irish people recognize your rights to exist as a nation, the recognition of Palestine in no way diminishes your rights as a state, quite the contrary,” he said.

“It is our deepest wish that the establishment of a Palestinian state will strengthen your existence and allow you to prosper and flourish in peace and harmony with your neighbors.

“I especially want to assure Jewish friends living here in Ireland that the last seven months have not been easy and many may feel there has been a change in attitudes towards them or people of their faith.

“We need to reassure them that they are welcome here, that they belong here, that they are as Irish as the rest of us.

“May Ireland be a home for the Jewish people so that they may continue their outstanding contributions to our nation in art, science, business and politics. This house has gained a lot thanks to people from our Jewish community.

“I share their frustration with the one-sided approach some people take to the conflict. That some might think that the horrific actions of the Israeli government mean they can remain silent about Hamas’s atrocities – I don’t.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said Palestinians in Gaza were experiencing “horror on an unimaginable scale”.

Ms McDonald told the Irish Parliament that world leaders “continue to draw a false equivalence between an impoverished occupier and an oppressive occupier”.

She accused Israel of “brazen and repeated violations” of international law, adding: “Palestine is a nation at risk of extinction.”

The Dublin TD added: “The world was always going to face a moment of reckoning with Palestine and as Israel continues its brutal attack on Gaza’s refugee population and launches its terrible rampage and attacks on Rafah, I believe the moment of reckoning is now.

“Recognition of a Palestinian state cannot be the end, it must be just the beginning: a new turn in the pursuit of freedom and justice for the Palestinians.”

Labor MP Aodhan O Riordain said the EU can and must move forward by suspending the trade deal with Israel.

He said: “The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner, as 32% of Israel’s imports come from the EU, and the Irish government can send a further signal of solidarity by passing an Occupied Territories Act banning all goods and services produced in Israeli-occupied settlements in the West Bank.

“But the reality is that there is one man with unparalleled influence who can end the Gaza disaster. His name is Joe Biden and he needs to do better.

“We know something about the peace processes in this country. We know that if there is to be peace, it must be achieved in the absence of violence.

“We know that if there must be peace, there must be compromise. We know that if there is to be peace, neither side can win absolutely.”