'We don't want them there' - Minister defends excluding Israeli and Russian Ambassadors from Ard Fheis

Michael McGrath said more countries are "moving towards the position that Ireland has had consistently" on Israel
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.21 12 Apr 2024

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'We don't want them there' - M...

'We don't want them there' - Minister defends excluding Israeli and Russian Ambassadors from Ard Fheis

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.21 12 Apr 2024

Share this article

A decision not to invite the Israeli and Russian Ambassadors to the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis has been defended by the Finance Minister.

Members of the party will meet in the capital this weekend just weeks away from European and local elections.

In a statement yesterday the party said it would "not be appropriate given the war on the people of Gaza and the war on Ukraine".


It added that while Fianna Fáil has "continuously condemned Hamas and its attack on the Israeli people on October 7th" it said the response from Israel is "completely disproportionate".

Minister Michael McGrath told The Hard Shoulder while the Government is maintaining contact with diplomats, Fianna Fáil has decided against inviting the ambassadors.

"As a party we feel it would not be appropriate to invite either the Israeli or the Russian Ambassador given the events that we are all too familiar with," he said.

"When we consider the values of our party, the values of our country, the people we represent we don't want them to be present at the Ard Fheis - that's the reason why".

'A lot of has changed'

Asked why the party invited Israeli Ambassador Dana Erlich to its Ard Fheis last November, Minister McGrath said the situation is different now.

"A lot of has changed, so much has happened over the last number of months," he said.

"I think what you're seeing internationally is more and more countries moving towards the position that Ireland has had consistently for the past number of months.

"We do have to start by absolutely condemning on the 7th of October the attack by Hamas... but I do think Israel has gone too far in its response.

"What we're seeing in Gaza is not acceptable".

Palestinian state

Minister McGrath said Ireland wants to see all the hostages held by Hamas released, a full ceasefire and total humanitarian access to Gaza.

"We have people starving there, it's just not acceptable," he said.

"While it is important at a State level that you keep the channels open and maintain diplomatic relations, this is a political party event this weekend.

"It's a decision that I fully support".

Israeli Ambassador Dana Erlich Israeli Ambassador Dana Erlich. 21/12/2023. Image: Newstalk

Minister McGrath dismissed a claim by Israel that a recognition of a Palestinian state by Ireland would 'reward terrorism'.

"It's a recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to having their own country," he said.

"The only sustainable basis for peace in the Middle East is the two-state solution.

"Achieving it is getting more and more difficult with the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

"But these two people are going to have to co-exist and live side by side in peace; and the only way to do that is to have a recognised Palestinian state".

Fianna Fáil members will gather at the Dublin Royal Convention Centre for the pary's 82nd Ard Fheis across the weekend.

Listen back here:

Main image: Finance Minister Michael McGrath speaking on The Hard Shoulder, 12-4-24. Image: Newstalk

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Ard Fheis Dana Erlich Fianna Fáil Finance Minister Gaza Illegal Israeli Settlements Ireland Israeli Ambassador Palestinian State Russian Ambassador The Hard Shoulder West Bank

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