Protesters heckle US senator Bernie Sanders during UCD event

Veteran senator and former US presidential candidate told demonstrators that disrupting meetings was anti-democratic

Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted an event in UCD featuring the former US presidential candidate and long-time senator Bernie Sanders.

One protester was evicted from O’Reilly Hall and two others continually interrupted a talk between Mr Sanders and David McWilliams, an event that was part of the Dalkey Book Festival.

Mr Sanders received a standing ovation from the crowd of more than 1,000 people when he told the protesters that public meetings were an essential part of democracy and disrupting them was wrong. He also told them that “slogans are not solutions”.

The protesters accused Mr Sanders of being a Zionist and a genocide denier despite him being one of the most vocal critics in American politics of Israel.


The 83-year-old long-time Vermont senator is in Ireland to promote his book It’s OK To Be Angry At Capitalism.

He was loudly applauded when he said that Israel had the right to defend itself “but it does not have the right to go to war against the entire Palestinian people”.

He said the American political establishment historically supported Israel but Israel has changed and now has an “extreme right-wing Government” with a prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who is facing criminal indictments and members of his Cabinet who are racists.

“There is not an appreciation of how bad he [Netanyahu] is and is Cabinet is worse,” he told McWilliams.

When asked if he thought Ireland should support South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice, Mr Sanders said people should be careful about using the word genocide, at which point he was again interrupted.

“What is going on now is absolutely outrageous. We have to do everything we can to stop the killing of innocent men, women and children. We need the UN to try to bring about a ceasefire and a humanitarian pause to bring in desperately needed aid.”

When asked if president Biden could win a second term, Mr Sanders said he could if he has an “agenda to speaks to ordinary people” and if he promises to reintroduce the president’s signature Build Back Better Bill which was defeated by conservative Democratic senators.

Mr Sanders added that both parties in the United States do not represent the interests of working people, but the political system in the country made it very difficult for a third party to get national traction.

He disagreed with president Biden on Israel and other issues, but he said a second term Trump presidency would be “far, far worse” and that democracy is at stake in the 2024 Presidential election.

Earlier he told students at the Philosophical Society in Trinity College Dublin that they must hold the world’s billionaires to account.

Mr Sanders said there is a “silent war” of ordinary people trying to survive and make a decent standard of living against “oligarchs who do not believe there is any limit to what they should have”.

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Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times