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Ireland/USA: campaigners call on Biden to 'listen to his Irish roots' over Gaza ceasefire

Campaigners outside the US consulate in Belfast © Amnesty International

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 

Belfast, Dublin, Washington: 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 visit 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 (full details below). 

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.

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.”

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.”   

Notes for editors

Amnesty International vigils are taking place in Belfast, Dublin and Washington DC this weekend calling on President Biden to listen to his Irish roots and call for a permanent ceasefire. 

Friday 15 March

As St Patrick’s Day activities kick off throughout Ireland and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and President Biden sit down for their annual bilateral meeting, Amnesty activists gathered outside the US Consulate in Belfast and the American Embassy in Dublin, with a backdrop of traditional uilleann pipe music. At both events campaigners raised a large banner calling on President Biden to “Listen to his Irish Roots and Call for a Permanent Ceasefire”, and shamrocks were laid in front of the consulate and embassy buildings. 

Letters from Amnesty urging immediate US action in support of a Gaza ceasefire were handed in to the embassy and consulate.

Sunday 17 March (4-6pm)

On St Patrick’s Day, as the Irish Taoiseach presents President Biden with a bowl of shamrocks, Amnesty International USA will host a solidarity vigil and place hundreds of shamrocks in front of the White House. The event will mirror those in Belfast and Dublin, and will see campaigners urging the US president to listen to his Irish roots and support a Gaza ceasefire.

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