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Ireland’s culture minister says she feels ‘revulsion’ at deaths in Gaza

Ireland’s culture minister has said she has felt “nothing but revulsion and anger” at the deaths and injuries in Gaza in recent months and said “it has to stop”.

Catherine Martin appealed to the US, a country with “strong ties” to Israel, to “join us in the pursuit of peace”.

The Green Party deputy leader has faced pressure over her attendance at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas this week.

Several Irish artists boycotted the arts festival for its ties to the US Army over its support for Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday Ms Martin took part in a SXSW panel discussion on the Basic Income For The Arts pilot in Ireland.

In her opening remarks, published on the Department of Culture’s website on Wednesday evening, she said that she had spoken to artists who had withdrawn from the music festival.

She said that she had reassured the Irish musicians that she would use “every opportunity available” to make clear her “revulsion at the devastation that has been unleashed on Gaza”.

Remarks were also uploaded to the department’s website of comments for a St Patrick’s Day reception at the Austin consulate on Tuesday night, where she said “the slaughter and maiming of innocent people under any flag, under any name for any cause is wrong”.

In her preprepared remarks for the SXSW panel on Wednesday, she said she was “taking a stand for the concerns” of the Irish people and Irish artists.

Taoiseach visit to the US
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will raise the issue with US president Joe Biden (Niall Carson/PA)

She called for a ceasefire, condemned the Hamas attack on 7 October and called for the release of all hostages, and for a “massive” increase in humanitarian aid for people in Gaza.

“As a representative of the Irish government, there is a special opportunity afforded to me to speak directly with you in the US, the country and the people with strong ties to the Israeli nation.

“Like so many people in Ireland, I have felt nothing but revulsion and anger at seeing the killing, bombing and maiming inflicted on the Palestinian people in Gaza in recent months.

“It has to stop.”

She continued: “We extend our hand to all Americans to join us in the pursuit of peace.

“The time for action is now, and Ireland remains steadfast in its commitment to bringing an end to this humanitarian crisis.”

She also said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is expected to raise Ireland’s concerns about Gaza with US President Joe Biden this week.

“Politicians stepping away from these public engagements where we can raise the horrific plight of Gaza is not an option.

“Instead, our jobs as representatives of the Irish Government is to use this platform to argue for peace.

Also on the panel were Sarah Calderon, executive director of Creatives Rebuild New York, Shafeka Hashash, an Associate Director of Guaranteed Incomes, and Angela Dorgan was the moderator.