An estimated 1,000 people staged a three-hour demonstration and march through Dublin city center on Saturday afternoon, demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to Ireland.
The march, which included speeches at both the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square and the Department of Foreign Affairs on St Stephen’s Green, was organized by the Irish Neutrality League and attended by members of a wide range of civil society groups calling for peace, including the human rights group Afri and Quakers, the Society of Friends.
Addressing the gathering in Parnell Square, Sarah O’Rourke of the Irish Neutrality League said neutrality was not about doing nothing but followed an anti-imperialist tradition of standing on the side of the oppressed.
She said the demonstration was necessary because the government “is not listening to us.” She said it “is not enough to say what is happening [in Gaza] is terrible” and called on the government to “take action and expel the Israeli ambassador.”
After a slow walk through the city center led by members of the Palestinian community in Ireland, Richard Boyd-Barrett of People Before Profit told the crowd that he shared Ms. O’Rourke’s sentiments. He said neutrality meant that Ireland should never side with empires and colonial powers.
But he said the government had shamed the Irish people by adopting the narrative that the Gaza conflict was about Israel’s security and self-defense, while it was about Israel’s genocidal attacks on Palestinians. He also called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and support for a “day of action to boycott Israel on November 9th.”
“What is happening in Palestine is another chapter in the dark history of genocide, only this time it is playing out on our television screens.”
Clare Daly, MEP, told the crowd if they didn’t trust “Leo and Michael”. [the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Micheál Martin] “In domestic matters,” they shouldn’t trust them “if they say they don’t plan to compromise our neutrality. We’re not buying that,” she said. She also called for Irish naval ships to be sued for transporting aid to Gaza.
Sinn Féin councilor Daithí Doolan said the Palestinian people were entitled to “national self-determination” like the Irish had achieved. He said the crowd’s calls during their march for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza showed that they were on the side of the majority of the Irish people, while it was the government that was out of step.
Brid Smith TD said the attitude of governments in the developed world not to take action against Israel showed that “there is something fundamentally wrong with democracy”. She said it was time for action from the Irish government and also called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador.
Irish Neutrality League spokesman Jim Roche said the demonstration was also against the war in Ukraine.
He said: “The conflicting attitudes towards both wars demonstrate the double standards of the Western powers, which have feigned support for the Ukrainian people since February 26, 2022 and escalated the war there because of their own nefarious, militaristic ambitions.”
“Yet they have driven the people of Gaza insane by supporting Israel’s attack and refusing to pressure Israel into an immediate ceasefire – despite more than 9,000 civilian deaths in Gaza.”