Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called for a ceasefire in Gaza during his keynote address at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts on Monday, March 11.

"What happened on the 7th of October was an act of pure evil and hatred, and it can never be forgotten, contextualized, or excused," Varadkar said in his address.

"Colleagues, when thousands of children are killed in response no one can avert their eyes.

"The life of a child is the greatest gift of all. Childhood should be a blessing. Today in Gaza, for so many children it is a death sentence and a curse.

"We all know that there are guilty people who perpetrated unspeakable acts of terrorism. But there are innocent men, women and children who are suffering for their sins. They should not be subject to collective punishment.

"The cries of the innocent will haunt us forever if we stay silent.

"The cries will engender radicalism, and beget more violence and more vengeance.

"No child ever gave their consent for acts of terrorism in Ireland or Israel or anywhere else. No child should ever be punished for them.

"It is unconscionable that they are dying not just as a result of relentless bombing and destruction, but of hunger and thirst and the absence of basic medical care.

"If we are not consistent – if we do not see and respect the equal value of a child of Israel and a child of Palestine – then the rest of the world, in particular the Global South, which after all is most of the world, will not listen when we call on them to stand by the rules and institutions that are the bedrock of a civilized world.

"In this scenario, we will all be losers and our world will be infinitely less secure.

"Consistent application of international law and international humanitarian law – to state and non-state actors alike – has to be the basis on which the international community engages with one another.

"So, Ireland will continue to call for an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and a massive and sustained increase in humanitarian aid, food, and medicine to the people of Gaza.

"We will also continue to call and to work for a meaningful political pathway leading to self-determination for the Palestinian people. A fully-fledged nation-state of their own, and homeland in the land of their forefathers.

"From our own painful history in Ireland, we know that a ceasefire does not mean surrender, nor does it necessarily mean peace, and it certainly doesn’t mean weakness. A ceasefire does not mean forgiveness either, but it does present a symbol of hope. It means breaking free of the perpetual cycle of violence, recrimination and retaliation. It means believing in our shared humanity instead of a need for revenge."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar gave the keynote speech last night at @JFKLibrary in Boston as part of #StPatricksDay2024 US visit. pic.twitter.com/sLtL4sKcOp

— MerrionStreet.ie (@merrionstreet) March 12, 2024

The Taoiseach delivered his keynote on Monday after arriving in the US earlier that day to begin his week of St. Patrick's Day engagements

Ahead of his visit, the Taoiseach, as well as other Irish politicians, were facing calls to boycott their annual visits to the US due to the American response to the war in Gaza.

The Taoiseach, however, said it would be a "big mistake" to skip the visit.

Elsewhere in his speech on Monday evening, the Taoiseach said "Ireland has always been a true friend to the United States."

On Tuesday evening, the Taoiseach is due to speak at the Ireland Funds Young Leaders event in Boston and on Wednesday morning, he will attend a breakfast hosted by the Irish American Partnership before heading to Washington, DC.

In Washington DC, the Taoiseach’s first engagement will be speaking at the Ireland Funds National Gala Dinner on Wednesday evening. 

On Thursday, he will attend and speak at a series of events hosted by Enterprise Ireland, the IDA, and the US Chamber of Commerce.

On Friday, the Taoiseach will meet bilaterally with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and the Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

On Sunday, St. Patrick's Day, the Taoiseach will attend the White House St. Patrick’s Day reception, which will feature the traditional shamrock ceremony.