Irish President Michael D. Higgins

EDITORIAL: Peace Dropping Not Even Slow

Blessed are the peacemakers. If you can find them.

And finding them in the world right now, especially in the Middle East and in the context of the war between Ukraine and Russia, is a Sisyphean task to say the least.

We can all be forgiven for despairing as the very concept of peaceful co-existence gets blown to pieces over and over again.

Here, in part, is what Irish President Michael D. Higgins said in recent days.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

“The ongoing horrific loss of civilian life in Gaza and Israel has to be addressed. It should concern us all. Violence by non-State as well as State actors must be described for what it is – breaches of international humanitarian law. If international law is to be respected, it is important that hostages be released and an immediate humanitarian ceasefire be put in place.

"In this terrible ongoing loss of civilian life, that is having such a devastating impact on families on all sides, with the large proportion of those killed being women and children, it is important that there be a verification of figures, that the lives lost are not reduced to competing press releases.

"The enlistment of civilians for military purposes on any side has to be recognised and addressed; collective punishment is not something we can accept and claim to be advocates of international law. It is simply unacceptable that hospitals and those being cared for within them are threatened by the basic lack of resources, damaged or indeed threatened with destruction, or those within them forced to be evacuated.

"When it comes to the protection of children, no other issues should stand in the way for even a minute. Friendships, alliances and partnerships are tested by what cannot be avoided if diplomacy is to return and replace war.

"I am proud of the Irish NGOs who are responding to the present horror that is unfolding in Gaza, great acts of courage and humanity are taking place in the worst of circumstances.

"One can only admire the extraordinary courage and commitment of the medical personnel who, while enduring unimaginable difficulties, are staying with those for whom they care, putting their own lives at risk.

"If we are to move past the present events, we need the capacity to verify what are the facts on the ground and to respond to them, removing all blocks to humanitarian relief, indicating how a space for diplomacy can be found, and out of all of this how a consistent diverse body of proposals might come forward, ones that can deliver a reasonable security to citizens of Israel, and at the same time achieve the delivery of the long-neglected rights of the Palestinian people; offering the prospect of peace to future generations who must share space and life together as neighbours.”

Sadly, these and similar words, including those uttered by the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, are being lost in the winds of war.

And there seems to be little or no prospect of an end in sight to the fighting in just the two conflicts mentioned above.

The world is in a bad place right now. Peace is not dropping, not even slow. It's not dropping at all.