Patrick Costello is a Green Party TD (Teachta Dála – member of the Dáil) for the Dublin South-Central constituency having been elected in the February 2020 general election. His partner is Hazel Chu, chairperson of the Green Party and current Lord Mayor of Dublin.
On Sunday, the Irish Examiner reported that he had submitted a complaint to the ASAI (Advertising Standards Agency for Ireland) regarding advertisements on AirBnB for holiday homes that are located in a certain disputed territory.
AirBnB lists properties in many disputed areas of the world. It doesn’t take long to find examples of accommodation being offered in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus (the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) but being described as being in Cyprus. The same goes for accommodation in parts of Western Sahara that are occupied by Morocco and it is well documented that they list properties in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Indeed, in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh, some of the properties being offered belong to people who were displaced by violence but are now being rented out by new occupiers. The owners have sent proof of their ownership to AirBnB, requesting that the properties be removed from the site, but their requests have been ignored.
However, Deputy Costello’s complaint is only concerned with holiday homes in Judaea and Samaria. When presented with examples of AirBnB offering accommodation in Western Sahara but described as Morocco, he sidestepped the question and gave no commitment that he’d be raising them as part of his complaint. When presented with similar listings in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, he gave no reply.
Only Deputy Costello can explain why he disregards the other listings and is only complaining about the ones in one particular disputed territory and he’s not willing to do that. However, he is certainly not the first Irish politician who has an apparent obsession with the Israel-Palestine issue to the exclusion of all similar issues around the world. Regrettably, he almost certainly won’t be the last.
by Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh