Martin’s Israel visit was ‘propaganda tour’, Murphy says as Tánaiste criticises ‘disinformation’

People Before Profit call for sanctions and stop to use of Shannon by US troops in motion

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy has described Tánaiste Micheál Martin’s recent visit to Israel as a “propaganda tour” and “a disgrace” in the Dáil on Wednesday.

Mr Murphy added that it was “absolutely shameful” for Mr Martin to be participating in “such a propaganda tour while the assault on Gaza is ongoing”.

The Dublin Southwest TD was speaking as People Before Profit put forward a motion calling for sanctions on Israel and to stop the use of Shannon Airport by US troops. The Government has put down a counter motion, with a vote due to take place tonight.

Mr Murphy said the Tánaiste, who is also the Minister for Foreign Affairs, had participated in “a propaganda tour organised by the Israeli state designed to justify the genocide being inflicted on the people of Gaza”. He said he was interested to hear why Mr Martin hadn’t visited Gaza and claimed it was down to one of two reasons.


“One is that he did not attempt to visit, that he thought it was appropriate to visit Israel to see the impact of Hamas rockets, to point at a ceiling but not appropriate to go and witness the destruction of hospitals, of apartment blocks, of refugee camps in Gaza,” Mr Murphy said.

“Or the other is that he did attempt to visit [Gaza] and that Israel said no, but that he had nothing to say publicly about that.”

Mr Murphy also questioned whether Shannon Airport was being used to transport weapons from the US to Israel and claimed that the Tánaiste and Government didn’t know.

In response, the Tánaiste said the People Before Profit TD had omitted to mention that he had also visited Egypt and the West Bank last week.

Mr Martin said this was part of a “broader disinformation campaign” that followed his visit, “which in itself was illustrative in terms of how people want either to undermine objectivity and impartiality and fair assessment of how we all approach this particular issue”.

Mr Martin said he regretted that Mr Murphy seemed to think visiting Kibbutz Be’eri, an area in southern Israel affected by the Hamas attack on October 7th, was “a propaganda visit”.

“It was anything of the sort,” he said. “It was horrific what I saw there and I only saw the village destroyed and the neighbourhood destroyed.

“It is not wrong to do that and to visit that and your outrageous assertion that that represented a propaganda sort of exercise I think is incomprehensible, and shows a complete disregard for the loss of human life in respect of the Hamas attack on that particular neighbourhood, which I think is informative in itself.”

The Fianna Fáil leader added the Government’s focus was on the release of nine-year-old Emily Hand and said “I know deputies will understand if I do not go into detail on Emily’s case”.

“We have worked consistently for her release over recent weeks, including through extensive contacts with regional partners,” he said.

Mr Martin said 51 Irish citizens and dependents had now been assisted to leave Gaza via the Rafah crossing into Egypt by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

He said Dáil motions didn’t “get these Irish citizens out of Gaza” and that diplomacy had.

“That’s the bottom line,” he said.

Mr Martin said a small number of Irish citizens remain in Gaza and that Ireland would continue to “work tirelessly” with the relevant authorities, which included Israel, “who have a huge say in terms of who leaves Gaza right now, whether you like it or not”.

“Getting rid of diplomatic channels would not in any way help to get Irish citizens out of Gaza or indeed their dependents,” he said.

The Tánaiste also said the Government was clear that no airport in Ireland, including Shannon, had been used to transfer weapons to the Middle East or to any other war.

“This policy is well-known and fully understood by our partners,” he said. “No applications have been received or exemptions granted in relation to civil aircraft travelling to Israel since the start of the current conflict.”

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times