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Concerns Raised by Deputy Prime Minister and Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin Over UNRWA Funding Cuts

Dublin: Micheál Martin, Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister and leader of Fianna Fáil, expressed apprehension about the future of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a UN organization dedicated to the welfare of Palestinian refugees. This comes in the wake of the announcement that nine countries, including the US and the UK, plan to cease funding the agency following allegations of Hamas’s involvement in terrorism.

The accusation pointed to UNRWA staff allegedly being linked to the Hamas attack against Israel on October 7, prompting the withdrawal of funding by various nations. Martin criticised these decisions as hasty and urged against punishing an entire population for the actions of a few. He emphasised the illogicality of withdrawing support for education, health, and food, affecting the well-being of the entire population.

Speaking at the European Parliament South Constituency Fianna Fáil election convention in Cork, Martin expressed deep concern about the future of UNRWA, praising its head, Philippe Lazzarini, as a respected and influential leader. Ireland, a significant contributor to the agency, recognises UNRWA’s vital role in the region.


Martin highlighted that without UNRWA, the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank would be even more dire. The agency, with 30,000 employees, including 13,000 in Gaza, plays a crucial role that needs careful evaluation.

Emphasising the urgency of ending the conflict, Martin called for an immediate ceasefire, expressing distress over the alarming situation in Gaza, where innocent civilians, including children, are losing their lives. He also hinted at Ireland potentially joining South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, indicating that legal experts have been tasked with examining the situation and providing a report.

UNRWA has appealed for a reconsideration of the funding withdrawal, pointing out that it would significantly impact the lives of 2 million people in Gaza. Juliette Touma, UNRWA’s Director of Communications, pleaded that the agency’s existence would be in jeopardy if the decision to withdraw funding is not reviewed, underscoring the financial challenges it has faced, especially after complete fund cuts during the Trump administration.

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