Shatter distances himself from acceptance of Palestinian motion

Former minister for justice says he believes move was done to avoid controversy

Former Fine Gael minister for justice Alan Shatter has distanced himself from the Government's acceptance of a Sinn Féin motion recognising the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dara Murphy said the motion was a positive contribution, with a great deal in it reflecting consistent Government policy. He said the Government would not oppose it.

Mr Shatter expressed regret that the Government refrained from tabling amendments to the motion "to better reflect the more sophisticated and nuanced approach being taken to it in the context of conflict resolution'', as represented particularly in Mr Murphy's speech.

“I presume this was done to avoid controversy,’’ he said. “However, the avoidance of controversy of itself is not a credible policy approach to an issue of such sensitivity and importance.’’


Mr Shatter said all that was learned from the Irish peace process should be brought to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

There should be a recognition of its greater complexity and different dynamic, the difficulties of the region and the competing interests, rivalry and antagonism, not only of neighbouring states but also within the Muslim world generally.

“The fabric of the conflict is multi-layered, and too frequently discussion of it, both within and outside this House, is selective and simplistic and ignores or deliberately avoids addressing issues of complexity which present a barrier to conflict resolution,’’ he said.

Fine Gael Mayo TD Michelle Mulherin also said she would have preferred a "more nuanced response'' from the Government to the motion.

Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the Irish people had a long history of supporting the Palestinian struggle to survive and formed deep bonds with their people. “We must again be to the fore,’’ he said.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times