Recognition of Palestine is a significant moment and a bold foreign policy move for Ireland

Inside Politics: There was no shortage of edginess in Government Buildings over other countries’ apparent waning enthusiasm


Well, the Slovenians had it right in the end. Almost.

Two weeks ago, reports in Slovenian media suggested that Ireland, along with the Slovenian government and others, would formally recognise Palestine on May 21st. With Government leaders set to gather for an 8am media doorstep in Dublin this morning, it appears that the date was only one day off. Indeed, by the time you’re reading this, it may be a done deal.

That initial report set off a flurry of skittishness in Dublin, with the Government only willing to confirm that it would take the step in the coming weeks, before firming that up to before the end of May. However, there was much to-ing and fro-ing on Monday over whether a decision would go to Cabinet. In the end, the Taoiseach is said to have briefed the Cabinet but nothing formal seems to have been agreed.

The reason for the nerves has been the degree of back-channelling with other European countries. Ireland is expected to make the announcement with two other EU member states. If that pans out, it looks like one of the other three - Spain, Slovenia and Malta - may have dropped out of the running, or moved to a later date. There was no shortage of edginess in Government Buildings in recent days as people worried over other countries’ waning enthusiasm, how the recognition might interact with domestic politics, and whether states that had appeared enthusiastic might fall by the wayside - such as Belgium. There was much speculation about Norway’s intentions as well. All will be revealed this morning - expect a significant backlash from Israel too.

READ MORE

The domestic politics will be more straightforward, but that shouldn’t diminish the significance of the moment, which comes less than 50 days after Simon Harris was elected Taoiseach. It is a foreign policy move unusual for its boldness - doubly so for the fact that Ireland is in the vanguard of European nations recognising Palestine. Simon Harris’s New Energy (™) gets applied to both foreign and domestic policy, it seems. However, with steps like this inevitably come some risks.

The Tánaiste, meanwhile, was engaged in shuttle diplomacy for months, going back to a dinner he hosted with likeminded countries to discuss the possibility of recognition on January 21st. That followed a round of calls and meetings with the UAE, Jordan, Norway, Palestine, as well as Iraq, Egypt and Spain across March, before more back channeling with Slovenia and Norway in April and May. His Middle East trip on April 23rd-25th was also pointed to by allies as important - before a final call with the Palestinian prime minister last night.

The news of the recognition came late on Tuesday evening. On the front page today, we outline how the Housing Commission wants all rents to be public - and for the government to junk rent pressure zones.

Shauna Bowers reports on the silent dangers of electric cars for pedestrians.

Best reads

Miriam Lord on the housing report leak that definitely didn’t bother the housing minister. As for Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin, Miriam reckons “if he had a handlebar moustache, he would have been twirling it” as his party delivered a “we told you so” moment.

Read more here about the Housing Commission report - and the politics of housing.

And here are 12 things that stand out from the report.

Kathy Sheridan is wary of the Taoiseach’s appeals to “common sense” on migration.

There’s a major European soccer final in Dublin tonight. Read Gavin Cummiskey’s tee-up of Atalanta v Bayer Leverkusen at Lansdowne Road here.

Playbook

Topical issues starts the day at 9.10am in the Dáil, with a Social Democrats motion to follow on dentistry services. Leaders’ Questions is at midday, followed by Questions on Policy or Legislation.

Taoiseach’s questions is at lunchtime, followed by government business which is given over to legislation enabling auto-enrolement in pensions. Divisions will be taken on a motion on housing at 5.45pm.

The full Dáil schedule

The Seanad kicks off at 10.30am with commencement matters followed by the order of business, and then before lunch will consider the Employment Permits Bill 2022. In the afternoon, Labour senators have a motion on waste management.

The full Seanad schedule

In the committee rooms, the Social Protection Committee has Joe O’Brien in on the Charities (Amendment) Bill and the Civil Registration (Eletronic Registration) Bill at 9.30am. Dara Calleary is taking legislation on microenterprise loans through the enterprise committee at the same time, while the Health Committee hears from the Irish Medical Organisation on the employment of consultants and junior doctors in public hospitals.

ComReg is at the Transport Committee after lunch, and the Media Committee has industry reps in to discuss supports for regional film and TV production.

Towards teatime, the Budgetary Oversight Committee is holding hearings on equality budgeting, and the disability committee is taking evidence on progressing children’s disability services.

The full schedule

Away from the world of politics (but not a million miles away), Tony O’Reilly’s removal is on Wednesday evening.

Eamon Ryan is at the Energy Ireland conference in Croke Park in the morning.

Darragh O’Brien is out to face the media at 10am - we wonder what might come up.

Charlie McConalogue, Malcolm Noonan and Pippa Hackett are hosting an event to mark the launch of the Breeding Waders European Innovation Partnership at 9.30am in Shannon Harbour, Co Offaly.

Sign up for Politics push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone