Holly Cairns new

Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns has written to the Taoiseach urging the Irish Government to support the case taken by South Africa against Israel in the International Court of Justice under the 1948 Genocide Convention.

“I listened to the Taoiseach’s comments over the weekend with disappointment, when he said he had no intention of joining the South African case. I strongly believe Mr Varadkar should reconsider this position by asserting our own interpretation of the Convention’s provisions – as this Government did in 2022 in Ukraine’s case against Russia – or initiate proceedings of our own in the ICJ as a matter of urgency.

“South Africa’s submission to the court argues that Israel is in flagrant breach of the Genocide Convention and calls for provisional measures, including a ceasefire order and an end to the Israeli blockade of food, water, fuel, medical supplies and assistance to Palestinians in Gaza.

“The mass killings of civilians; the displacement of 85 per cent of the population; the targeting of homes and public infrastructure; and the inciting statements by several senior Israeli officials – portraying Palestinians as sub-humans and calling for the complete destruction of Gaza – all constitute genocide and show proof of intent, according to their submission.

“We have all borne witness to the atrocities committed in Gaza over the last number of months and South Africa is not alone in warning of an impending genocide – 36 independent UN human rights experts have called for all countries to mobilise the international genocide prevention system. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has even described the situation in Gaza as ‘apocalyptic’.

“On multiple occasions, the Taoiseach has said that Israel is acting in breach of international humanitarian law and that the assault on Gaza ‘resembles something more approaching revenge’.

“The Government have spent three months issuing condemnatory statements about Israel’s ongoing massacre of innocents in Gaza but have failed to match their words with action.

“At a meeting of the Oireachtas Business Committee today, my party colleague Cian O’Callaghan asked for Dáil time next week for a debate on Gaza and the Government’s refusal to support South Africa’s ICJ case against Israel. Regrettably, his request was not facilitated by the Government chief whip.

“As a party to the Genocide Convention, Ireland has an obligation take its responsibilities seriously. We should not stand idly by while we have the ability to take a stand on an issue of such grave importance.”

January 11, 2024

Full text of Deputy Cairns’ letter to the Taoiseach here

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