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Ceann Comhairle addresses European Jewish Association

Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil Seán Ó Fearghaíl has told a meeting of the European Jewish Association that Hamas is an “evil organisation” which – along with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah – are a “rotten evil plague on humanity and they must be brought to an end”.

He told the meeting that there has been an increase in hate speech and intolerance in Ireland recently, and contended that responsibility for this lay “not just with the extreme right, but the left also”.

In a question and answer session, the Ceann Comhairle said this was connected to both the “crisis in Gaza” but also a reaction to “a massive influx of immigrants into our country”.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl told the meeting: “72 million people worldwide claim Irish ancestry. So we are the last nation on earth to be unwelcoming to the immigrants.

“But there are elements – unsavory elements, elements that promote hate, and dissension.”

On the war in Gaza, Mr Ó Fearghaíl told the audience that he hoped all parties would focus exclusively on securing peace as otherwise the already catastrophic situation would get immeasurably worse.

He said watching TV news every night, and seeing five-year-old Palestinians and Israelis, made him fear there would be incredible radicalisation as a result of the conflict unless a lasting peace was achieved speedily.

The focus of the conference was on combatting anti-semitism and the Ceann Comhairle said that in the past there had been “very little anti-semitism experienced” by Ireland’s small Jewish community.

“Ireland has been proud to support the work, internationally and nationally, of ensuring remembrance of the Holocaust and of discouraging discouraging denial and distortion,” he said.

Asked about “anti-Zionism” in Ireland, Mr Ó Fearghaíl said: “We fully recognise and accept Israel but we support a two state solution.

“Our attitude and our approach to the issue is born out of our own historical experience, as a nation that was colonised… as a nation that suffered as a result of that colonisation.”

He said that while Ireland has “empathy with the underdog” that did not mean that we “condone murder, hatred, or discrimination of any kind”.

The Ceann Comhairle’s contention that the left was responsible for the rise in intolerance was flatly rejected by People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy.

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