Dáil observes minute’s silence in solidarity with people of Gaza

Tánaiste rejects Opposition demand for special debate

Mary Lou McDonald: accused the Tánaiste of “a limp and lily-livered’’ response to the issue ,

Mary Lou McDonald: accused the Tánaiste of “a limp and lily-livered’’ response to the issue ,

Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 09:02

The Dáil yesterday observed a minute’s silence in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

The gesture was proposed by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams who, with members of his party, had copies of the Palestinian flag.

Earlier, Tánaiste Joan Burton, who was taking Opposition Leaders’ Questions, rejected a request by Mr Adams for a four-hour debate today on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Mr Adams said “we are in a primary position, because of our own peace process”, to send a very clear message to the region, particularly to the citizens and families of those who have been killed.

He was supported by Fianna Fáil and Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins.

The House adjourned yesterday for the summer until Wednesday, September 17th. The Government’s proposal to adjourn the House was carried by 68 votes to 46.

Ms Burton said the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs could discuss the matter and have a detailed discussion.

“The Minister for Foreign Affairs will be available,” she added.

Israeli ambassador

Ms Burton earlier said Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan had no difficulty in meeting with the Israeli ambassador on the issue.

She added that EU ministers would discuss the issue immediately after the weekend.

Missions

She said the Department of Foreign Affairs was closely monitoring the situation, and keeping in contact with missions in Tel Aviv and Ramallah.

Ms Burton said the last few weeks, in the wake of the horrendous murders of three young Israelis and a Palestinian youth, had been incredibly difficult for all concerned with promoting the cause of peace in the Middle East.

“Despite this we cannot be deflected from addressing the underlying causes of the conflict and redoubling our efforts to promote a viable two-state solution which represents the only sustainable basis for a just settlement and resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict,’’ said Ms Burton.

Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue said while the five-hour ceasefire announced last night was welcome and needed, it was not enough. Citizens in Gaza were unable to get access to essential medicines.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald accused the Tánaiste of “a limp and lily-livered’’ response to the issue.

“Can the Tánaiste state clearly that there is no equivalence between the civilian Palestinian population and the Israeli military apparatus?’’

Off the hook

Ms McDonald asked if the Tánaiste understood that Ireland’s interests in pursuing the move to broker a permanent ceasefire, and a just conclusion to the conflict, were not well served by dodging the core issues of letting the Israelis off the hook.

Ms Burton said the first and most important step was to extend the ceasefire and make it permanent.