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 © Amnesty International

15th March 2024, 08:30:51 UTC

Joint Amnesty initiative coincides with Leo Varadkar, Michelle O’Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly visiting White House for traditional St Patrick’s visit

Campaigners’ transatlantic shamrock vigils highlight need for President Biden to act

This St Patrick’s Day weekend, as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Northern Ireland leaders Michelle O’Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly visit the White House, activists from Amnesty International across Ireland and the United States are gathering to call on President Biden to demand a permanent Gaza ceasefire.

With the Taoiseach making the annual pilgrimage to the White House to meet with President Joe Biden and to present a traditional bowl of shamrocks, the three national Amnesty groups issued a joint plea to President Biden for him to “listen to your Irish roots” and “call for an immediate and sustained ceasefire” in Gaza.

As part of the transatlantic Amnesty initiative, campaigners scheduled three linked vigils this weekend – one outside the US Consulate General in Belfast, another outside the American Embassy in Dublin, and a third outside the White House in Washington DC.

Amnesty is calling for an immediate sustained ceasefire in Gaza, the release of all remaining civilian hostages, and for Israel to end its illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza. Amnesty is also calling for a comprehensive UN Security Council arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and other armed groups that covers the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms and military material.

In Ireland, Stephen Bowen, Amnesty International Ireland’s Executive Director, said:

“We ask President Biden to hear Irish people around the world pleading for an end to the atrocities. Since the horrific attacks of 7 October, more than 30,000 Palestinian people have been killed, the majority of them women and children. To allow this travesty to continue is unspeakable. It’s time Mr President. Call for a permanent ceasefire to end the mass humanitarian suffering in Gaza, aid the return of hostages, and calm the tensions multiplying in the region.”

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International Northern Ireland’s Director, said:

“Across Ireland, north and south, people are urging President Biden to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. The US ambassador to the UK recently said there are lessons to be learned from Northern Ireland’s peace process when dealing with this war. The most important lesson is: stop the killing. President Biden can help put those words into action now.”

Paul O’Brien, Amnesty International USA’s Executive Director, said:

“President Biden proudly claims his Irish ancestry. The Irish government has steadfastly demanded an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza. On St Patrick’s Day, President Biden should join the Irish government and Irish people in unequivocally calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.”