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Home / News / Taoiseach urged to use Biden visit to call for ceasefire

Taoiseach urged to use Biden visit to call for ceasefire


Over 1,000 Irish healthcare workers have written a letter to the Taoiseach calling on him to use his meeting with the US President this weekend to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Irish Healthcare Workers for Palestine (IHWP) says it is asking Leo Varadkar as a leader, doctor and human rights advocate to strongly and unequivocally demand an immediate ceasefire and the immediate provision of adequate lifesaving aid to the people of Gaza.

Mr Varadkar is to hold talks with President Joe Biden on Friday and will meet him again on St Patrick’s Day for the traditional shamrock ceremony at the White House.

IHWP is a multidisciplinary network of healthcare professionals from across Ireland who advocate for Palestinians rights to health and the need for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The group said Mr Varadkar is in a unique position to save lives and to put an end to the suffering.

The letter, signed by almost 1,200 registered healthcare professionals from across Ireland, is for the attention of all TDs.

Professor Veronica O’Keane, a retired consultant psychiatrist, said there was a strong feeling among healthcare workers that they needed to support their colleagues in Gaza.

“This has galvanised everybody, there’s a huge healthcare movement internationally, I mean the whole world is stunned, not just by targeting, but by the justification of the targeting of the healthcare system there,” Prof O’Keane said.

“As a psychiatrist, one of the issues we’re deeply concerned about is the sort of extremism that the sort of trauma that’s happening there can breed for the future.

“As the minutes tick by, more and more people are starving and we have to do something about it.”

Speaking in advance of the visit to Washington, Mr Varadkar said he would “raise the concerns of the Irish people on the shocking crisis in Gaza, reiterating our call for an immediate and sustainable ceasefire to facilitate a massive increase in the humanitarian aid that can reach desperate people and the immediate and unconditional release of the remaining hostages”.

“I will be emphasising that a peaceful and secure future for all people in the region can come only from a two-state solution, with Israel living side-by-side in peace with a fully-fledged State of Palestine,” Mr Varadkar said.

Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik accepted the letter outside the Dáil.

“I think we need a stronger statement, I welcomed the Taoiseach’s statement from America, but I do think we need to go further, we need to be using every lever at our disposal to put pressure on … a Democratic president in America to call out Israel to ensure there is a ceasefire, to withdraw support for Israel until there is a ceasefire,” she said.

“To see [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu literally defying weak calls from America shows the need now for President Biden to come out stronger, and indeed for our Taoiseach and our Government to come out and put stronger pressure on the US government … because what we’re seeing is outrageous.”


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