Tánaiste says no to boycott of Eurovision song contest in Israel

Boyd Barrett says State must be consistent in outrage at treatment of children

Israeli artist Netta reacts after winning the 2018 Eurovision song contest in Lisbon, Portugal. Israel, as the winner, will host the 2019 contest. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP

Israeli artist Netta reacts after winning the 2018 Eurovision song contest in Lisbon, Portugal. Israel, as the winner, will host the 2019 contest. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP

 

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has ruled out the possibility of Ireland boycotting next year’s Eurovision song contest, which is to be held in Israel.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett called for the boycott as he contrasted the State’s response to the treatment of children in the US with that of minors in the Palestinian territories.

Mr Coveney said he did not believe Ireland would advance the cause of Palestinians by calling for or supporting a boycott right now. His focus as a Minister in Government was to ensure that Ireland could be as influential as possible in trying to bring an end to the violence there.

Trade boycott

Mr Boyd Barrett, who has repeatedly called for a trade boycott of Israel, described current EU policy on the Middle East as “politics, two-state solutions, engagement, blah, blah, blah” but said “ we are talking about children”.

He said the revulsion expressed by the world at the forcible separation of parents from children in the detention of immigrants on the Mexican border, forced US president Donald Trump “into something of a U-turn”.

Revulsion

He said the Dáil was part of that global expression of revulsion of US policy.

“The same has to happen with Israel,” he said, adding that Gaza and the Palestinian territories were “probably the most dangerous place in the world to be a child”.

“One Palestinian child has been killed every three days on average for the past 18 years by members of the Israeli military”.

Fourteen children had been killed in the past few weeks and more than 1,000 injured by the Israeli military and there were some 350 children in prison at present, he added.

Mr Coveney who has been to the Middle East three times in the past year and who visited Gaza in January, said he had been very critical of the Israeli response on the Gaza border and the tragedy and bloodshed there in recent weeks.