Ireland secures European Council clause on solidarity with Iran

Government insisted on clause “expressing solidarity with Iranian women”, Taoiseach says

A request by Ireland led to a joint declaration by the European Union condemning a crackdown on protests in Iran and calling on Tehran to immediately release imprisoned peaceful demonstrators, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

A wave of protests swept Iran in the past month driven by fury at the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody after she was arrested by morality police for “inappropriate attire” under Iran’s strict modesty code, with footage showing crowds of Iranian women and girls protesting to chants of “death to the dictator”.

Security forces have raided schools and used “live ammunition, metal pellets at close range, and fatal beatings” in a brutal crackdown in response, according to the UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani, who cited estimates that as many as 23 children had been killed.

At a summit in Brussels on Friday, the 27 EU national leaders agreed to a text declaring that the European Council “condemns the unjustifiable and unacceptable use of force by the Iranian authorities against peaceful protesters, in particular against women”.


They called on the Iranian government “to immediately stop the violent crackdown against peaceful protesters and release those detained, in full respect of their civil and political rights” in the joint summit conclusions.

The wording was added at the request of Ireland and became the final clause in council conclusions that were otherwise largely dedicated to the invasion of Ukraine and the energy crisis.

“There was a conclusion this morning in relation to Iran, condemning the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Iranian regime on the women of Iran,” Mr Martin said. “That was put in at the insistence of Ireland.”

The clause was requested by Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne at a preparatory meeting for the summit in Luxembourg on Tuesday, he said.

Ireland requested it “to make sure that we would have a conclusion with respect to Iran expressing solidarity with Iranian women, and the particular repression that they are currently under,” Mr Martin said.

The EU on Monday sanctioned 11 individuals and four entities it said were implicated in the crackdown on protesters.

But within three days another round of sanctions was agreed – a record time for the EU, according to officials – after evidence emerged that Iran had provided military support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The EU sanctioned three individuals and one entity involved in the “development and delivery” of unmanned aerial vehicles to Russia used in its war on Ukraine, imposing a travel ban and asset freeze.

The step was taken after new evidence emerged to show “not only were drones supplied after the war began, but trainers on how to use the drones were also supplied”, one diplomat said.

The Ukrainian government says its military has shot down multiple drones originating from Iran, which it says have been used to pummel Kyiv and other cities by exploding on impact in so-called “kamikaze” strikes.

The renewed tensions this week have quelled hopes of a breakthrough on negotiations aimed to revive a deal under which Tehran would cease its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times