Comments by Suella Braverman show the UK government is “at sea and ignorant” on Irish affairs and the Middle East, Sinn Fein’s president has said.
Mary Lou McDonald has accused the Tories of “gratuitous insult” after the home secretary said pro-Palestinian “hate marches” were of the type “we are more used to seeing in Northern Ireland”.
The woman hoping to be the next Taoiseach – Ireland’s prime minister – was speaking exclusively to Sky News on the eve of her party’s annual conference.
Ms McDonald said: “I think it demonstrates the extent to which the Tory government, and she perhaps in particular, are at sea and ignorant of Irish affairs and also … the distance between the Tory government and such a huge number of people in England and right across Britain.
“They were extraordinary, they were to say the least unhelpful, in as much as in the end they are a distraction from a situation that could not be more serious.
“I think it would suit her better and the government better to join with others and call for a ceasefire.
“It strikes me that the government in London is really at this stage a bit of a past master at gratuitous insult.
“If the idea is simply to create division or arouse controversy, well then she has achieved those objectives.”
Ms McDonald said Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was “wrong on both questions” of a ceasefire in the Middle East and the timing of a referendum on Irish unity.
Drawing comparisons between Ireland and Palestine, Ms McDonald said the Irish people had a deep and widespread affiliation with Palestinians for historical and contemporary reasons.
She said: “Ireland is non-aligned and militarily neutral, but we are not neutral when it comes to the issue of international law and we’re not neutral when it comes to the right of Palestinian people to self-determination.
“We’re not neutral when we say that Israel must be held to account for decades, generations of human rights violations.
“We also recognise that to get to a place of peace and settlement, you do have to have an inclusive process. We’ve learned that in Ireland, haven’t we?
“That’s the only thing that works.”