Artists unite: Ireland’s stance for justice in Palestine

Isabella Reyes platforms the Irish artists advocating for Palestinian resistance

Amidst the ongoing turmoil in Gaza, Irish artists are taking a stand and their voices are resonating loud and clear. In a powerful display of solidarity, over one hundred artists, including the likes of Irish artists Kneecap, Mick Flannery, Sprints, Guerrier, and Chalk, have united in boycotting the SXSW festival due to its sponsorship by the US military and other related military-industrial companies. The protestors’ message is simple yet profound: Art should not be tainted by associations with oppression.

Northern Irish hip-hop trio Kneecap, released a statement explaining: “This decision will have a significant financial impact on Kneecap, both on lost income and on logistical costs already incurred. But it isn’t an iota of hardship when compared to the [unimaginable] suffering being inflicted every minute of every day on the people of Gaza.” This sentiment was echoed by Gurriers’ drummer Pierce Callaghan, who voiced that: “We as Irish people have a lot of solidarity with the people of Palestine as we share a history of occupation and oppression by colonialist countries. It is inherently wrong to taint the celebration of art with links to the genocide going on in Palestine.” The boycott has sent shockwaves through SXSW. Many are even calling for a broader boycott in 2025 if SXSW’s sponsorship and funding model is not altered. As the pressure mounts, the festival faces a crucial decision: stand by its controversial sponsors or heed the call for change.

Dublin-based muralist Emmalene Blake, has simultaneously captured international attention with her evocative street art. Her most recognised mural is inspired by the infamous photo of a Palestinian woman cradling the dead body of her tiny niece. In her mural, Blake replaces the child’s death shroud with a Palestinian flag. A few days after the mural became internationally acknowledged, Samia al-Atrash, the woman in the photo, reached out to Blake, and now the two fundraise for Gaza together. They sell prints of Blake’s mural and donate the proceeds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Blake was also approached by Middle Eastern diner Shaku Maku to create a mural in memory of the thousands of children who have been killed in Gaza. Blake offered her talents free of charge, creating a mural of a young child against the Palestinian flag. Following the unveiling of the mural, the owners of Shaku Maku reported receiving a sudden influx of poor reviews, all brief, single sentences, including “very bad” and “dirty food and place”. The owner, Adnan Shabab, said it was “obvious” the reviews were an orchestrated effort following the restaurant’s proud display of solidarity with Gaza. Neither Shaku Maku nor Blake were deterred by this backlash, with each continuing to campaign for ceasefire and relief efforts in Palestine.

“In the face of adversity, Irish artists are proving that art is not just a reflection of society–it’s a catalyst for change. It is clear their voices will not be silenced until justice prevails”

Crucially, it’s not just individual artists taking action–Irish organisations are also making a tangible difference in activism and fundraising. Irish Artists for Palestine is a coalition of artists organising and engaging in various solidarity events nationwide. Founded in November last year, their resolve remains steadfast as they champion the belief that “art plays a crucial role in opening hearts and swaying minds.” In the face of adversity, Irish artists are proving that art is not just a reflection of society–it’s a catalyst for change. It is clear their voices will not be silenced until justice prevails.