When will Ireland recognise Ireland as a state?

Ireland’s recognition of the state of Palestine has been enthusiastically welcomed at home and (mostly) abroad as a positive contribution to the future of Palestine. Needless to say, this development did not take place in a vacuum though, for the most part, it is being presented as if it did.

The scale and endurance of the pro-Palestinian campaigns in Ireland both historically, and specifically in response to the Israeli/US barbarism in Gaza, is probably not given the recognition it deserves. However, the result was dramatic: the Irish government was forced to take a position – a position that successive Irish governments had resolutely refused to entertain.

That is one side of the story. The problem for pro-Palestinian campaigners and supporters is that Ireland is a perfect example of a term not often used these days – Ireland is a banana republic. So much so, that the Irish government does not get out of bed in the morning without first checking with its major ‘partner’ – the United States of America.

This is where internal political considerations clashed with Ireland’s unswerving allegiance to the US. There now was a problem and it had to be solved. So, for our brave leaders in the Irish government, it then became a matter of how to manage this particular problem.

Enter the US State Department. From then on, Ireland stayed firmly within the boundaries allowed – as it always does. And that is what it came down to: what would Ireland be allowed to say or do. The statement provided by the Irish government, here  if read carefully, clearly shows what those boundaries are.

It did not stop there: on 28 May, the day the Palestinian flag flew outside Leinster House (Irish Parliament) the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Simon Harris stated “And Europe could be doing a hell of a lot more, Europe needs to do a lot more in relation to this.” Europe but not the United States of America! Know your boundaries and stick to them – or else.

As reported by Politico:

Dublin was determined to take this step without damaging its typically strong relations with U.S. politicians — particularly Biden’s White House.

Consequently, Irish Department of Foreign Affairs diplomats ensured that their U.S. counterparts in the State Department were speedily briefed on every conversation the Irish had with like-minded European governments — Belgium, Malta, Norway, Slovenia and above all Spain — as they pursued a joint plan to recognize Palestinian statehood, the official said.

This included face-to-face discussions with senior National Security Council officials at the White House in March as part of St. Patrick’s Day-related diplomacy; multiple phone calls between Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin, who led the Irish initiative, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken; and final calls to Washington following the Irish Cabinet’s formal signoff on its decision Tuesday night.

“We couldn’t have been clearer in spelling out our intentions weeks, months in advance to make sure there were no surprises or needless suspicions raised in Washington,” said the Irish official, granted anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Apparently, the US side was quite chuffed with the outcome: “They tried to make enough of a group so that it would make a splash, but in our view, it’s more like a ripple.”

In the end, the Irish statement announcing its intentions quite clearly shows that the Irish position soon emerged as an Irish government/US State Department position or, in short, a US State Department position.

Let’s start with the “hostages”:

It is long past time for a ceasefire, for the unconditional release of hostages and for unhindered access for humanitarian aid.

Let me be clear that Ireland condemns the barbaric massacre carried out by Hamas on October 7th last. Civilians attacked and murdered. Hostages taken in the most brutal and terrifying of circumstances, including a young Israeli-Irish child.

We call again for all hostages to be immediately returned to the arms of their loved ones.”

Harris is referring here to more than one hundred Israeli hostages held by Hamas. Nowhere in his statement does he even refer to the 5,200 Palestinians hostages, including at least 170 children held up to October 6, 2023, nor to the 7,350 more hostages taken by Israel since that date.

Move on to “children”:

Children are innocent. The children of Israel. The children of Palestine. They deserve peace.”

Look at the order. Yet, the killings are in a different order – 10,651 Palestinians were slaughtered by Israel in the 23 years up to 7 October 2023, including 2,270 children and 656 women (Israel’s B’Tselem figures). That’s 460 a year. In that period Israel was exterminating Palestinians at the rate of 8:1 and children at the rate of 16:1.

The figures since 7 October are so horrific that they cannot even be accurately counted – on the Palestinian side. That is before we even start to think about starvation and denial of medical and other essential requirements, the destruction of medical facilities, injuries and the unrelenting terror.

Now we get to the “two state solution”:

“It is a statement of unequivocal support for a two-State solution – the only credible path to peace and security for Israel, for Palestine and for their peoples.” (note the order again)

“A two-state solution is the only way out of the generational cycles of violence, retaliation and resentment, where so many wrongs can never make a right.”

It is not for me to determine what is best for the Palestinian people but when the chief enablers of the barbarism against the Palestinian people tell you that there is only one solution – a two state solution – it is legitimate to constructively analyse that position. However, when the Irish government – in unison with the chief enablers of the barbarism – insists that this is the only solution, it becomes an imperative.

The fact is that large numbers of Palestinians have always, and still, oppose the Oslo Accords and the concept of a two state solution. Indeed, a large part of the reason for the successful election of Hamas in Gaza was its opposition to those concepts. Yet, the Irish government and the US government insist this is the ONLY way forward.

However, Ulster says NO! Ooops, I have strayed into that other unresolved statehood issue – the little matter of the British-occupied six counties in the province of Ulster in the north of Ireland.

Sorry, Israel says NO! NEVER! to a two state solution with Netanyahu boasting that “everyone knows that I am the one who for decades blocked the establishment of a Palestinian state that would endanger our existence.”

Despite the clearly stated and unequivocal refusal of Israel to even consider a two state solution, the Irish and US governments insist that it is the ONLY option. So, Ireland has now recognised the state of Palestine but retains the right to tell them what to do in step with the US government telling them what to do: the-two-state-no-other-option option is the only option.

The real irony is that in fighting so hard for Palestinian statehood and sovereignty, the Irish government – as usual – entirely sacrificed its own statehood and sovereignty as it crawled on its belly to the US State Department begging for some understanding for the little pickle it found itself in. The fact is that the Irish government would not dare step one inch outside the well-established boundaries that have been set for it by the US authorities.

Yet, the Irish government is successfully strutting its stuff – virtually unchallenged – about how brave it is, what a wonderful defender of the oppressed it is, what a promoter of peace it is as it crawls back from its ‘consultations’ with the worst offender of all those concepts the world has ever known.

Now that Palestine is sorted, perhaps we could look to seeking statehood and sovereignty for Ireland? The farcical position of the Irish government leading a charge on Palestinian statehood while simultaneously begging forgiveness and understanding from the despots who rule the US (and who think they rule the world) and with an on-going British occupation of part of our country, has not entirely gone unnoticed. One thing is certain, the Irish government will not lead that charge.

Declan McKenna is a solidarity activist living in Donegal, Ireland. He can be reached at dmck@outlook.ie Read other articles by Declan.