President Higgins calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza in St Patrick's Day message

President Higgins calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza in St Patrick's Day message

PRESIDENT OF IRELAND Michael D. Higgins has used his St Patrick’s Day message to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Mr Higgins also called for the release of all hostages in the region as he said Irish people can be proud of the country’s humanitarian response to the conflict.

Meanwhile, the president also praised the contribution of immigrants to Ireland as he reminded people that St Patrick, like many Irish around the world, arrived as 'a migrant finding solace and purpose in a foreign land'.

'Collective punishment'

Calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, President Higgins cited the ongoing hostilities as he said it was civilians that paid the heaviest price during times of conflict.

"Attacks on citizens have increased, as in the attack by Hamas last October followed by a reprisal of horrific assault as collective punishment," he said.

"This year, all of the people in Gaza, ordinary citizens facing the most horrific of circumstances of war and displacement, will be in the thoughts of Irish people.

"On this special day, it is important to call and pray for an immediate ceasefire, an end to the killing including as it does such a huge proportion of children, a ceasefire which will include too the release of all hostages.

"The facts of child deaths and malnutrition are carried each day on the television screens of the world — of children dying of lack of oxygen, with many more threatened with what will be a human-induced famine.

"In responding to this, the lead taken by Ireland in giving increased and additional aid to UNRWA is an initiative of which Irish people can be proud, influenced as it is not only by our own history, but given the importance and urgent need for international humanitarian action, and international humanitarian law in our world."

'Trampling on international law'

Praising Ireland's unbroken record of overseas service with the United Nations, President Higgins expressed his fears that the organisation was under threat amid growing disregard for international law.

Again citing the conflict in and around Gaza, he appeared to criticise parties' vetoing recent draft UN Security Council resolutions calling for an immediate ceasefire.

"The United Nations, and multilateralism itself, is under grave threat," he said.

"Secretary-General António Guterres' recent comments as to how parties to conflict are not only ignoring but trampling on international law, the Geneva Conventions and even the United Nations Charter cannot be ignored.

"We all must respond to his words, support him.

"Such a rejection of international law, of international responsibility, emphasises again how the Security Council has been weakened by abuse of the veto, leading as it has to its failure to respond with appropriate agreed resolutions both to Israel's military operations in Gaza and to Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine two years ago."

'Concern for humanity'

Meanwhile, as the country celebrates the achievements of the Irish Diaspora around the globe. President Higgins praised the contribution of migrants to life in Ireland.

Both arrivals to Ireland's shores and those who have left the country epitomised the 'courage' of Ireland's patron saint, said the president.

"St Patrick's life embodied the values of solidarity, friendship and concern for humanity," he said.

"Coming to Irish shores as an outsider, an exile, a migrant finding solace and purpose in a foreign land, his story serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience, courage and wide-ranging contribution of migrants throughout history, of those who seek refuge and shelter.

"These migrant traits we rightly celebrate in those who have left our shores, including those who have made, and are making, such important contributions to so many causes across the world.

"We see it today in the contributions of the many wonderful people who have come to live their lives in Ireland over recent decades and who are now such a central part of the Irish family, whose work makes our society possible in its vulnerabilities and possibilities."