Fine Gael members criticise Simon Harris over recognising Palestine in 'tense' meeting

Fine Gael members criticise Simon Harris over recognising Palestine in 'tense' meeting
Simon Harris, © PA Wire/PA Images

Fine Gael members have launched an attack on Taoiseach Simon Harris for recognising the Palestinian state, saying the move doesn’t reflect the views of the party’s grassroots.

According to the Irish Examiner, a private meeting of Fine Gael TDs and senators heard criticism from two senior figures, Paul Kehoe and John Paul Phelan, who hit out at the decision by the Cabinet to recognise a Palestinian state.

It is understood that Mr Kehoe criticised a lack of discussion on the matter at recent party meetings, saying there was no decision that this was Fine Gael’s position.

The Irish Examiner also reports that Mr Phelan raised the recent Fine Gael ard fheis, where grassroots party members voted down a motion that called for the party to support the recognition of a Palestinian state. The motion had also called on the Government to implement the Occupied Territories Bill.


The Carlow-Kilkenny TD also raised concerns that the decision to recognise Palestine could see Israeli businesses choose to leave Ireland.

One source who attended the meeting told the Irish Examiner that the atmosphere was “tense”.

However, Mr Harris was not in attendance and criticism was instead received by Fine Gael’s deputy leader, Heather Humphreys, and the Minister for Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe.

Mr Donohoe defended the Government’s decision and pointed out that it was a confidential decision of the Cabinet, while adding that Mr Harris would update Fine Gael TDs on the matter at the next parliamentary party meeting.


It is understood that Ms Humphreys also defended the decision, saying that the Government had recognised the Palestinian state, rather than any specific Palestinian government.

In his announcement earlier on Wednesday, Mr Harris said that it was a “historic and important day”.

He said that recognition is “an act of powerful political and symbolic value”.