Former minister Alan Shatter criticises Irish Government and media in Jerusalem Post article

Former Fine Gael politician argues there is an ‘incapacity’ by the Government and media to understand the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The Irish Government and media have an “incapacity” to understand the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, former Government Minister Alan Shatter has said in an opinion article in Israeli media.

Mr Shatter’s article in the Jerusalem Post under the headline, “Ireland’s Israel Problem,” criticised his former Fine Gael colleague Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Micheál Martin and the Irish media.

The former minister, a member of Ireland’s Jewish community, noted that Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin “unequivocally condemned” the October 7th attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel and “ultimately acknowledged Israel’s right to self-defence”.

But he added: “After a few days, however, concern started to be expressed that Israel would ‘go too far’ in its attacks on Gaza, and there were calls for Israeli restraint and a ‘proportionate’ response. This presented to many as saying, ‘We acknowledge Israel’s right of self-defence but we will criticise Israel if it exercises it.’”


He accused the Irish Government of failing “to absorb and publicly fully depict the enormity of the October 7th atrocities, including 3,000 rockets fired at Israel and over 240 hostages abducted that day – their historic resonance and traumatic impact on not only Israelis but Jewish communities globally”.

He also wrote: “The major Irish media and political focus in the days that followed rapidly became the carnage in Gaza and presented Israel as the aggressor in a war initiated by Hamas.”

Mr Shatter said his initial reaction to Mr Varadkar’s much-criticised online post on X, formerly Twitter, in the wake of the release of Irish-Israeli girl Emily Hand was “incredulity and outrage”.

The Taoiseach tweeted on the girl’s release by hostage-takers Hamas that “an innocent child who was lost has now been found,” prompting an angry reaction in Israel at his failure to say she had been kidnapped.

“Had Varadkar simply posted his full statement Saturday night on X instead of its first paragraph, now explained as deriving from a Christian parable, much controversy and upset could have been avoided,” said Mr Shatter.

He wrote: “Parable or not, referencing Emily as ‘lost’ and ‘found’ was, in the circumstances, extraordinarily insensitive and beyond ludicrous.”

In response to Mr Shatter’s criticism, a spokesman for the Government said it has “condemned repeatedly and unequivocally” the Hamas attack and “continues to do so”.

“We have been clear that Israel has a right to defend itself but it does not have a right to breach international law or international humanitarian law particularly, when it comes to civilians and civilian infrastructure,” said the spokesman.

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Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times