Irish Government defeats votes on calls to support South Africa case

The Irish Government has defeated motions in parliament that called on it to apply sanctions to Israel and support South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The Irish Government faced further pressure to join the genocide case against Israel, as opposition parties criticised its decision to await the preliminary findings from the ICJ.

South Africa has brought a case against Israel’s action in Gaza, which has killed 25,000 people since October, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

On Wednesday evening, the Dail parliament in Dublin held a series of votes on motions and amendments which had been brought by the Government and opposition parties.

A motion originally brought by Government on Tuesday said it would “strongly consider an intervention” in the ICJ case only after the court had made its order on preliminary measures and the filing of South Africa’s main case.

It was accepted on Wednesday by 71 votes to 62, after opposition amendments from Labour, Sinn Fein, the Social Democrats and People Before Profit were defeated.

During what was described as a “voting fest” by Ceann Comhairle (chair) Sean O Fearghail, a Government counter to a separate but related motion on the matter brought by the Social Democrats was also carried by the Dail through a 71 to 58 margin.

Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns had said that Ireland should intervene in support of South Africa’s case at the ICJ.

She said: “We do not need to wait for preliminary judgments and subsequent assessments to indicate our support. I’m sure the Government knows that.”

Hundreds of protesters had gathered outside Leinster House on Wednesday evening in support of the Social Democrats’ motion.

Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and carried placards which called on the Taoiseach to boycott the traditional annual trip to the White House for St Patrick’s Day over US support of Israel.

Under the night sky, protesters installed a large illuminated sign spelling out “Gaza” across the road from the gates of Leinster House.

Israel-Hamas conflict
An installation outside Leinster House (Brian Lawless/PA)

Delivering a speech at the protest, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the US and leading European Union states are “up to their necks in Palestinian blood and complicity with Israel’s crimes”.

He added: “It is beyond shameful that the Irish Government, still this week, is refusing to commit to support South Africa’s brave, courageous decision to take Israel to the ICJ for the crime of genocide against the people of Gaza.”

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said Israel was practising apartheid.

She said: “Today we stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza as they endure horrific bombardment.”

Israel-Hamas conflict
Pro-Palestinian protesters on Wednesday (Brian Lawless/PA)

Independent senator Frances Black said: “Three-and-a-half months into this nightmare, the Government continues to sit on the fence.

“After all this time, all the death, the destruction, horror – Government still refuses to take meaningful action. It has to make you wonder – if not now, when?

“What does Israel have to do for Ireland to impose sanctions? Is empty rhetoric the only thing we can offer our Palestinian brothers and sisters when they look for practical assistance in their darkest hour.”

During the Dail debate earlier in the day, agriculture minister Charlie McConalogue said the Government is taking the South Africa’s case “very seriously”.

Israel-Hamas conflict
Pro-Palestinian protesters gather outside Leinster House (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Any decision we take about an intervention will be based on detailed and rigorous legal analysis,” he added.

“The Government’s position has been clear and consistent across all forums in its bilateral engagement. We need a humanitarian ceasefire.

“This is a message we conveyed to the United Nations yesterday and remains central to the Tanaiste’s approach to the Foreign Affairs Council earlier this week.”

Sinn Fein’s Matt Carthy said more than 25,000 people, including 10,000 children, have been killed in the last 100 days.

He said that the Israeli military has attacked every hospital in Gaza and demolished education buildings.

“If that isn’t genocide, well then, I really do not know what genocide will ever mean again because what would we apply that term to?” Mr Carthy added.