Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Questions (145)

Mattie McGrath


145. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to address concerns that the funding being provided to an organisation (details supplied) is opposed to Ireland’s position regarding NGOs that support the global BDS boycotts, divestment and sanctions movement; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that companies have shut down online credit card donations to the organisation in May 2018 due to its ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5066/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Irish Government does not support a policy of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in relation to Israel, and does not fund any activities that promote such a policy.

However, we also recognise that both NGOs and citizens are entitled to hold and express peaceful political views, including views which are not shared by their Governments. While the Government does not support a policy of BDS, it is a legitimate and non-violent political viewpoint, and simply because an organisation may advocate for the policy would not automatically exclude them from Irish funding.

I am aware of reports of challenges regarding online credit card donations to the organisation referenced.

This comes in the context of ongoing attempts to discredit Israeli and Palestinian NGOs including by using unsubstantiated allegations to pressure financial institutions to withdraw services to them.

Ireland’s programme of support to the Palestinian people, delivered through Irish Aid, is designed to support and reinforce the overarching political objective of a peaceful resolution to the conflict and the emergence of a viable and prosperous Palestinian State.

My Department is careful in vetting organisations that receive Irish Aid funding to ensure that there can be no misuse of funds and that Irish funding does not support groups on EU terrorism lists.

I have always made clear my support for freedom of speech and the importance of a vibrant civil society. Irish Aid will continue to support civil society organisations that have a role to play in promoting international law, human rights, and democratic values.