A leading Irish charity has been accused of mounting a biased campaign against Israel by Fine Gael party chairman Charlie Flanagan.
Trocaire is the official overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland.
Flanagan has accused Trocaire of ‘mounting a biased and partisan political campaign against Israel,’ according to a report in the Sunday Independent newspaper.
The Fine Gael party chair accused the state funded charity of ‘conducting a very active political campaign in the Middle East.’
He has called on his own government to investigate the claim against Trocaire which receives over $20million annually in state grant aid.
The Fine Gael boss added: “Trocaire is waging this campaign against Israel. I believe it is biased and partisan.
“I hope every family, whose children brings home a Trocaire box for the mantelpiece, should be aware of the true nature of Trocaire’s campaign in the Middle East.”
The Sunday Independent report carries quotes from an article by Trocaire’s executive director Justin Kilcullen on Irish and EU policy towards the settlements.
Kilcullen wrote: “The Israeli settlements in the West Bank have been built on occupied land. Their existence has been repeatedly deemed illegal by the UN and the International Court of Justice.
“But Irish and EU policy towards the Israeli settlements defies logic. We consider them illegal yet we economically support them.”
Flanagan told the paper that Trocaire has overstepped its mandate as a development agency.
He added: “I am very concerned about their stance and their political bias. Trocaire is an official organisation linked to Irish Aid - the State’s programme of assistance to developing countries.
“It is a major recipient of taxpayers’ money through Irish Aid. They are currently calling for a boycott of Israeli products and calling for a ban on trade with those producing goods on the West Bank and have called for a ban on what they described as ‘illegal goods’.
“It is my belief they are now engaged in a very partisan political campaign that is beyond their remit.”
The report says that Trocaire was set up in 1973 with the aim ‘to express the concern of the Irish Catholic Church for the suffering of the world’s poorest people.’
Trocaire has always been involved in advocacy work as well as charity work, according to its website which states: “Trocaire envisages a just and peaceful world where people’s dignity is ensured and rights are respected; where those in power act for the common good.”