Dáil suspended briefly after TDs call for debate on Gaza ‘genocide’

Richard Boyd Barrett and Mick Barry refused to resume seats despite Ceann Comhairle’s appeals

The Dáil was suspended briefly on Wednesday afternoon on its first sitting of 2024.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said his party was calling for a Dáil debate this week on the “genocide” occurring in Gaza as well as the Government refusal to support South Africa’s action against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The Dún Laoghaire TD said the Government had brought “shame” on the country for refusing to support South Africa and were giving “excuse after excuse for not doing it”.

“There is a genocide going on, are you going to give us a debate where we can discuss the genocide, the worst possible crimes?” Mr Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys.


In response, Ms Humphreys said such matters had been debated before Christmas and the State had previously intervened before the ICJ and were “never afraid to intervene at the appropriate time”.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the PBP TD to resume his seat and told him to “stop making a charade of the place”.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said “it makes a charade of the place not to discuss a genocide, to continue as if we have business as usual when we have 250 people killed every single day and you won’t even have a debate about it”.

His colleague, Mick Barry, also stood up calling for a debate and Mr Ó Fearghaíl suspended the House for five minutes after the TDs would not resume their seats.

When the Dáil resumed later, Mr Ó Fearghaíl told Mr Boyd Barrett he did not believe there was a single member in the Dáil who wasn’t “sickened by what they see happening in Gaza and what we saw happen in Israel on October 7th”.

“We’re shocked and appalled by all of it, but I don’t know what is being achieved by shouting in here and jumping up and down, or by a debate,” he said.

Ms Humphreys added the TDs could raise the issue at Leader’s Questions, Oral Questions, Written Parliamentary Questions, Private Members’ time or Topical Issues.

“There are loads of opportunities,” she said. “You don’t have to stand up there and just create a big fuss so that you’ll get attention and you run it off on social media and you have a big song and dance.

“I know what you do all the time. This is all about yourselves. It’s not about the people that we’re watching on the television ... We’re all very aware of it. We’re doing everything we can as a Government, I can assure you.”

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Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times