Sinéad O’Connor had courage, Ireland’s leaders do not

Sinéad O’Connor respected the Palestinian call to boycott Israel. 

Mark Doyle SplashNews

Sinéad O’Connor was a fabulous singer who constantly spoke her mind.

The tributes following her death have underscored how she brought attention to truths now categorized as uncomfortable.

Her bold stances against child abuse by the Catholic clergy and the 1991 US invasion of Iraq have been noted in mainstream media coverage. Yet her important contribution to the campaign for Palestinian rights has been overlooked.

In 2014, she canceled a concert she was scheduled to play in Israel. She did so in protest at the major attack on Gaza that summer.

“Nobody with any sanity, including myself, would have anything but sympathy for the Palestinian plight,” she said at the time. “There’s not a sane person on earth who in any way sanctions what the fuck the Israeli authorities are doing.”

Sinéad O’Connor’s heartfelt words are at odds with the increasingly gutless positions on Palestine taken by the government of her native Ireland.

Robot runs foreign ministry

Examining these positions prompts the question: Has the Irish foreign minister Michéal Martin been transformed into a robot?

Whenever the European Union issues a statement on Palestine, Robot Martin repeats it either verbatim or with tiny modifications.

Robot Martin never seems to question the underlying bias.

How did Robot Martin respond to the massive raid which Israel undertook in Jenin refugee camp earlier this month?

The raid – it should be recalled – was Israel’s largest military offensive in the West Bank for two decades. At least 12 Palestinians were killed, including four children.

This context is vital. But you won’t find any of it in Robot Martin’s only tweet on the raid.

That tweet merely referred to the “troubling events in Jenin” and urged “immediate de-escalation.”

Robot Martin’s comment was flanked by photographs of him meeting Sven Koopmans, the EU’s Middle East envoy. Koopmans’ chosen euphemism for the Jenin raid was “terrible situation.”
Jenin was also subject to a large Israeli raid last month.

Robot Martin was equally on message then.

The message he delivered was deceptive.

On 21 June, Robot Martin tweeted that he was “deeply shocked by the murder of four innocent Israelis in the West Bank yesterday.”

A little later in the same tweet, he said: “I’m also alarmed by the killing of 7 Palestinians in Jenin this week.”

Notice the language used.

According to Robot Martin, Israelis are victims of “murder” but Palestinians die because of “killing.”

The sequencing in Robot Martin’s tweet was similarly misleading.

The shooting attack on Israeli settlers in the West Bank had occurred after an Israeli raid on Jenin. Robot Martin’s tweet gave the impression, however, that the Israelis had been killed before the raid on Jenin and that there may have been some excuse or justification for the raid.

Blander than bureaucrats

Sometimes Robot Martin is even blander than bureaucrats representing the European Union collectively.

In May, Israel launched the latest in a series of major assaults on Gaza.

On 9 May, the first day of the attack, Israel killed 15 Palestinians. Four of them were children.

Both Robot Martin and the European Union’s diplomatic service reacted to the attack by saying they deplored the loss of life.

There was one slight, though important, difference between what they had to say.

The EU response was typically weak. Nonetheless, it acknowledged that Israel had carried out airstrikes on Gaza.

Robot Martin failed to name Israel as the aggressor.

Such craven conduct has been evident for a few years now.

While he was nominally in opposition, Michéal Martin and his party Fianna Fáil supported legislation to ban imports from Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights.

The Occupied Territories Bill – as the legislation is called – was approved by a clear majority in the Oireachtas, Ireland’s parliament.

Despite being part of that majority, Martin did a U-turn during a recent stint as taoiseach (Ireland’s prime minister). In 2020, he claimed that EU law meant the bill could not be implemented.

Martin’s suggestion that his hands have been tied by Brussels must be challenged.

While the EU has strict common rules on trade, its governments do enjoy some leeway to take unilateral actions when issues of fundamental public interest are at stake. Opposing Israel’s settlement-building activities – war crimes under international law – is most definitely a matter of fundamental public interest.

And even if the EU tries to thwart a ban on settlement goods introduced by one of its governments, then surely the Brussels elite should be defied. Why should anyone respect diktats aimed at allowing an unjust situation to endure?

Sinéad O’Connor was one of countless Irish people outraged by Israel’s crimes against humanity.

Have the robots in the Dublin government been programmed to ignore that outrage?




Michéal Martin has been dubbed "the Baby Jesus" in his native Cork due to his penchant for simulating innocence. He is, of course, a skilled politician who's risen through a sea of internal treachery within Fianna Fáil to become leader of his theatrically corrupt party and then Taoiseach (Prime Minister). In faulting the man's courage we give him too much credit. His diluted empathy for Palestinians is a precondition in Irish politics for maintaining full and unconditional support for Zionism. He doesn't back Israel out of timidity but from a well-defined affinity.

With respect to Ireland's loss of her beloved Sinead O'Connor, the fulsome media tributes now circulating are a back-handed tribute from "personalities" who represent all that she stood against. They're trying to march in her funeral train at a time when the elite they celebrate for a living are openly reviled by the public. But where were these florid columns and programs and ad campaigns attesting to Sinead's value to her country while she still lived? They claim her now, when she's no longer able to rebuke them. Nevertheless, this is something we can do on her behalf and for ourselves. Her loss touches everyone who listened to her songs and knew of her life and treasured her open-hearted embrace of the Palestinian cause.

Slán agus beannacht, Sinead. Farewell and Godspeed.