On April 14, 2010, a representative from Irish Aid told the Jerusalem Post (“UK regulators to look at War on Want”) that “The Irish government is opposed to proposals for trade sanctions or boycotts against Israel.”
Following these comments, NGO Monitor wrote to Ireland’s Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power T.D., asking how this policy was consistent with Irish government funding for War on Want and Al Haq – two NGOs that support the global BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) movement.
The response from Mr. Power T.D.’s office confirmed that “Irish Aid does not fund War on Want Northern Ireland or War on Want UK for work in the Palestinian Territories.”
However, the response did not substantively address NGO Monitor’s concerns regarding Al Haq. Irish Aid praised the group as a “well-established and highly regarded human rights NGO,” but did not relate at all to Al Haq’s role in BDS activism.
Peter Power T.D.
Minister of State for Overseas Development, Ireland
RE: Irish Aid statement on boycotts against Israel
Dear Minister Power,
On April 14, 2010, a representative from Irish Aid was quoted in the Jerusalem Post (“UK regulators to look at War on Want”):
“The Irish government is opposed to proposals for trade sanctions or boycotts against Israel. The minister for foreign affairs, Micheál Martin, has stated this publicly on many occasions…Irish Aid does not fund War on Want Northern Ireland or War on Want UK for work in Palestine.”
As part of NGO Monitor’s ongoing research on European government funding for NGOs, we have the following questions for you:
Can you confirm these statements regarding Irish Aid policies on boycotts and funding for War on Want?
Additionally, given War on Want’s campaigns against Israel, is Irish Aid reconsidering its general support for the NGO?
Finally, NGO Monitor has noted that Irish Aid supports Al Haq, a Palestinian NGO that lists anti-Israel boycotts among its goals and objectives. How is this funding consistent with the abovementioned policies?
We look forward to continued dialogue on these important issues.
Dear Mr. Balanson,
The Minister of State for Overseas Development, Mr Peter Power T.D., has asked me to respond to your letter of 15 April in relation to a statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D. in the Jerusalem Post.
I can confirm that the Irish Government does not support proposals for trade sanctions or boycotts against Israel. This has been stated publicly by Government representatives on many occasions. I can further confirm that Irish Aid does not fund War on Want Northern Ireland or War on Want UK for work in the Palestinian Territories. Irish Aid continues to fund War on Want Northern Ireland and War on Want UK for work in other contexts.
Irish Aid funds Al Haq on the basis that it is a well-established and highly regarded human rights NGO, which plays an important role in documenting and seeking to bring an end to human rights violations in the Palestinian Territories, regardless of the identity of the perpetrators. Funding the work of Al Haq in promoting respect for human rights is fully consistent with Ireland’s foreign policy objectives.