Tánaiste Micheál Martin says it wouldn't make sense to boycott the annual St. Patrick's Day visit to the White House this year over the US response to the war in Gaza.

“That doesn’t make sense. You have to engage," Martin told reporters on Tuesday when asked whether Ireland should boycott the St. Patrick's Day trip to the White House, the PA reports.

“The only way to increase pressure, the only way you can get a resolution on this is to get international pressure that is so overwhelming that there is a stop to the violence.

“It is clear that the US administration is now seeking to not only get an end to violence, but also to create political track to ensure that there is a Palestinian state, that we get a two-state solution to this.

“People take this very seriously and people are very worried about what is happening in the Middle East, not least because too many citizens are being killed and too many children are being killed, but also regional escalation is happening.

“We have the Houthis firing missiles at unarmed merchant ships, disrupting trade and economy. We are worried about what could in Lebanon. This could get much worse and therefore everyone is seized by the gravity what is happening in Palestine.

“The idea that Ireland would just retreat from any engagement to me doesn’t make sense. I don’t subscribe to that view. We believe dialogue and engaging with countries.”

The Tanaiste's comments parallel those offered by TD Mary Lou McDonald, President of Sinn Féin, who said in December that Ireland's relationship with the US is "valuable," but acknowledged that the Irish stance on Palestine differs from the US.

In a tradition that dates back decades, Irish politicians head to Washington, DC every March for St. Patrick's Day events at the White House. The events typically include a presentation of shamrock from the Taoiseach to the US President.

However, calls to boycott the annual visit in 2024 are gaining momentum as the US continues to shy away from calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Ireland's main political parties have been consistent in calling for a ceasefire in Gaza since the conflict erupted in October. The US, however, has either abstained or vetoed several UN resolutions calling for a ceasefire, prompting growing criticism both in the US and Ireland.

Leading the calls for the boycott is Ireland's People Before Profit (PBP) political party.

TD Paul Murphy told Newstalk last week: "It [the war in Gaza] could not be happening, and be continuing to happen, without the support of the US administration.

"On an annual basis, they give about $4 billion in military aid to Israel, but now since November, Biden has been pushing through an extra $14.5 billion military aid package.

"We think it's vital that Ireland stands out on the world stage, we think we should be joining South Africa's case against Israel in the ICJ [International Court of Justice].

"And we think we should use the opportunity of St. Patrick's Day that if the genocide is still continuing, and if it's still continuing with the support of Joe Biden, that we should make a statement that will be heard in America and heard around the world that we do not support this and we are utterly opposed to the US Administration's support of it.

"And on that basis, the Irish government and Irish politicians should not be meeting with Joe Biden and the US administration."

Murphy said a boycott would be a "noted event" and that it would "apply pressure" on Biden.

Murphy admitted that the boycott would likely not stop the war in Gaza, but added: "What I know is that a genocide is being committed, and all of us have a duty to do whatever we can to apply whatever pressure we can to bring it to an end.

"This isn't the only thing we think the Irish government should be doing. We think we should be expelling the Israeli Ambassador, we think that we should be imposing sanctions on Israel, we think we should be joining South Africa's case at the ICJ.

"But this is an additional thing that we could do that would just add pressure."

Meanwhile, an online petition urging all Irish politicians to "boycott St. Patrick's Day celebrations at the White House" in 2024 has received more than 8,500 signatures since being launched three weeks ago.