Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin expressed regret at the decision of the Carrickmacross Town Council to vote to remove a page from the visitor’s book signed by the Israeli Ambassador Zion Evrony during a recent visit to the town.
The incident comes at a time of growing tensions between Ireland and Israel following the use of forged Irish passports by the hit squad that was behind the assassination of senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.
“I fully understand and share the deep concerns which many people in Ireland feel in regard to Israel’s policies on a number of issues, including the settlement of East Jerusalem and the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza, as well as the allegations of the use of forged Irish passports by Israeli agents. I made our concerns on these matters known last week when I met the Israeli Foreign Minister and visited Gaza," Martin said on Monday in a statement issued in response to a Ynet report on the Carrickmacross Town Council's decision.
"However, it is a basic principle of relations between States that we treat each other’s diplomatic representatives with civility and respect, regardless of any policy differences. To do otherwise would seriously undermine the ability of states to conduct international relations," he said.
According to Martin, "Ambassadors represent not just their governments but their peoples. In turn, the way that foreign ambassadors are welcomed and received in Ireland says something about us as a people. Foreign Ambassadors are free to travel in Ireland and I encourage them to do so.
"If citizens here feel moved to protest against the policies of the governments they represent, which they have the right to do, I would ask that the do so peacefully and in a way that respects the diplomatic status and personal dignity of the Ambassador,” the Irish FM added.