Directors of ActionAid in Ireland and the US on three questions Taoiseach Leo Varadkar must ask US President Joe Biden during their Washington meeting to mark St. Patrick’s Day

  • Date: 13/03/2024
  • Author: Karol Balfe and Niranjali Amerasinghe

The scale of suffering and violence in Gaza is horrific. In just five months, 31,000 people, 70% women and children, have been brutally killed. Around 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes. Children are now dying from starvation due to lack of aid, and famine is imminent. 

The reality is that all of this is man-made and entirely avoidable. The role the U.S. has played is unconscionable, as the current administration has not only expressed unconditional support for Israel, but is also sending weapons and requesting additional funding to finance and sustain the siege in Gaza.

No civilian, Israeli or Palestinian, deserves to live in fear for their lives. The often cited ‘right to self-defence’ is not a legal pass that frees Israel from its obligations under international humanitarian law.  The disproportionate response by the Israeli government to the brutal events of October 7th should not amount to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people. 

The senseless and inhumane killings and cycle of violence must stop.

This week, the annual St. Patrick’s Day “greening” of Washington is overshadowed by the senseless violence, death and starvation in Gaza. This is a week when Ireland has unique access to the U.S administration. While there will be the traditional handing over of the shamrock, receptions and parties, straight talking also needs to be happen. Lives depend on it.

As a country that knows the horror of famine from its own history, the war on Gaza must be firmly put on the table when Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, meets with U.S. President Joe Biden, in the Oval office tomorrow (Friday March 15th).

There are three fundamental questions that the Taoiseach must ask President Biden: 

  1. The U.S. proposal for a temporary ceasefire ‘as soon as practical’ is insufficient to addressing this crisis that worsens by the minute. Will President Biden push Israel to agree to an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza?
  • Talk of temporary ports and food aid air drops into Gaza are merely elaborate distractions that skirt around the inevitable. Will President Biden put pressure on Israel to allow unfettered, unimpeded full scale humanitarian aid into Gaza as a matter of urgency? 
  • The US military is supporting Israel’s reign of terror on Gaza. Will President Biden stop sending military support to prop up Israel’s campaign in Gaza?

The people of Gaza have endured enough horror. The Taoiseach and the plethora of senior Irish Government members and officials in America for the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations must raise these questions at the multiple official and unofficial meetings that will be taking place.

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