Sinn Féin accused of seeking to ‘isolate’ Israel by Dublin embassy

Embassy says it hopes Sinn Féin raised Hamas attacks during meeting with Arab diplomats

Sinn Féin has been accused of seeking to “isolate” Israel rather than offering “constructive engagement” after the country’s ambassador to Ireland was not invited to a meeting between Mary Lou McDonald and diplomats from Arab countries.

Israel’s embassy in Ireland said it hopes Sinn Féin pointed out during the meeting on Thursday that the “war” is a result of the “barbaric” attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7th and that there was a “firm call” for the release of the 200 Israeli hostages that were taken.

Ms McDonald and other senior Sinn Féin figures met ambassadors and other diplomats from Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq on Thursday.

“The ambassadors briefed us on the deteriorating situation in Gaza where the Israeli bombardment is causing a humanitarian crisis with almost 10,000 Palestinians killed,” the Sinn Féin leader said after the meeting.


“Israel’s actions are not defence,” Ms McDonald said. “They amount to collective punishment and are a breach of international law.”

She said the international community needs to be “unequivocal in calling for an immediate ceasefire”.

Ms McDonald said on Friday that Israeli ambassador Dana Erlich’s position is “untenable”.

She said: “The ambassador should no longer enjoy diplomatic status in Ireland while Israel refuses the imperative for ceasefires and as the suffering and death toll grow.”

Israel has insisted it is acting within international law and it is taking measures to avoid civilian casualties.

In a statement, the Israeli embassy said Ms Erlich was not invited by Sinn Féin to Thursday’s meeting.

“To exclude Israel from such a forum is quite telling of Sinn Fein’s position on the conflict and suggests that it only seeks to isolate Israel, rather than offer a forum for constructive engagement,” it said. “We can only hope to presume that if Sinn Féin is serious about understanding and discussing this war between Israel and Hamas with foreign ambassadors, that it raised the many relevant issues.”

The embassy said these include that “this war was initiated by Hamas with the barbaric and gruesome attacks on civilians... resulting in the murder of 1,400 people and the kidnap and cruel abduction of more than 200 hostages.”

It said Hamas continues to fire rockets towards Israel every day. “The only thing preventing the murder and maiming of more people in Israel is the Iron Dome missile defence system and Israel’s operations in Gaza,” it said. “Hamas has not ceased its attempts to indiscriminately kill more Israelis.”

It also said: “We hope that in light of their [Sinn Féin’s] concern for Palestinians, a clear condemnation was made against Hamas and their abuse of their civilian population” which the embassy said were being used “as human shields for the sake of its [Hamas’s] war with Israel.”

The embassy also said Israel has a “right and duty to defend itself” and that it hopes “there was a clear and firm call to release all the hostages that were kidnapped by Hamas” at the meeting.

Sinn Féin’s foreign affairs spokesman Matt Carthy said the meeting was organised at the request of the Arab diplomats.

Asked if Sinn Féin had raised some of the issues listed by the Israeli embassy, Mr Carthy said the party has at “every opportunity... set out very clearly that Hamas breached international law on October 7th and their actions should be condemned.

“We have called for the release of hostages.”

He also accused Israel of breaking international law not just in its actions since the Hamas attack but “through their illegal occupation and annexation of Palestinian land”.

He reiterated Sinn Féin’s call for a ceasefire saying this “includes Hamas” and what he described as Israel’s “unmerciful bombardment” of Gaza.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times