‘Highly ironic’ severest critics of Israeli violence have ‘no problem’ with IRA, says FF Senator

Ned O’Sullivan says if people ‘condemn what’s happening in Gaza’ they cannot embrace ‘the people who murdered’ Det Garda Jerry O’Sullivan

Fianna Fáil Senator Ned O’Sullivan has said it is “highly ironic” that those most outraged by the violence and atrocities perpetrated in Gaza have no problem with “commemoration services for the Provisional IRA”.

He said that “we have to be consistent here. If you are going to stand up and condemn what is happening in Rafah, then you cannot be embracing and welcoming the people who murdered my friend, Jerry McCabe,” in reference to the Garda shot dead by the IRA in a post office raid in 1996.

Mr O’Sullivan found it “highly ironic that a great number of the people who are most vociferous in their condemnation of the violence and atrocities being perpetrated in Gaza have no problem countenancing commemoration services for the Provisional IRA people who massacred thousands of people in our own country, including thousands of people of the Catholic faith, and who seem to have no difficulty in balancing those two.”

He also said that if Hamas released their hostages in the morning “I believe we would have peace and we would get a ceasefire. Why do they not release their hostages? They are treating people like animals in caves, we do not know what they are doing. Their parents and their families do not know if the hostages are dead or alive. Let us talk about that in this House. Let us have a bit of balance.”


Speaking during a debate on legislation to make security checks compulsory on aircraft passing through Ireland to ensure they are not carrying munitions illegally, the Kerry Senator described himself as “somewhat of an outlier” on the Israeli-Hamas conflict.

He did not “begrudge the achievement of the Palestinian people in securing recognition for a Palestinian state”, even though it was unclear “what kind of a state this is, where it is going to be located and many other aspects about it”.

The Listowel-based Senator said the Government and his party leader Tánaiste Micheál Martin “are acting in what they consider to be the best interests of peace in the Middle East” but he had serious reservations about the timing of the decision.

“There is every danger that Hamas is perceiving it right now as a reward for what it carried out on 7th October”, adding that the current round of the “age-old conflict” was started by Hamas. “It sickens me to see the video clips of what they did to young, vibrant women out celebrating a concert. They were humiliated, degraded, raped.

“Unfortunately they got cheers for doing that from a large sector of the Palestinian community. I think that must be borne in mind also by the pro-Palestinian lobby here.”

Mr O’Sullivan said “we seem to have a fixation for violence in one specific geographic location only”.

One of the upsides of recognition of Palestine however is that “we now have the moral right to approach the people of Palestine and encourage them to hold elections,” because it was so long since they last held them.

“We are very critical of Israel. Israel is a democracy. Israel has elections. Mr (Binyamin) Netanyahu, whatever you may think of him, was democratically elected. You cannot say the same of the leaders of Hamas, Hizbullah or any of the rest of them.”

Mr O’Sullivan added that Hamas “has no solution whatsoever to the Middle East only the entire destruction of the Israeli people. That is a fact. You may look around and open your eyes at me and all the rest of it but that is an actual fact. They want to annihilate Israel.”

He offered his “sympathy to the Jewish community living in this country and in this city. We know what they are enduring. We know the worries and fears their children have going to school.”

And he told the Upper House he totally disagreed with the recent statement by President Michael D Higgins on anti-Semitism and agreed entirely with the new Chief Rabbi.

President Higgins described claims of anti-Semitism in Ireland as “irresponsible”. It was “absolutely outrageous to be abusing the Jewish community” by saying that there is widespread anti-Semitism.

“I don’t think it is helpful if people representing the Jewish state seek to encourage fear where it doesn’t exist by saying to people: ‘All of us now and anyone of Jewish faith must feel afraid’; that is grossly irresponsible,” he said.

Chief Rabbi Yoni Wieder challenged the President and said however that Jewish families who had lived in Ireland for “six, seven, eight generations” had told him that never before had they felt such a “tension” or “their viewpoint as Jewish people so delegitimised”.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times