Ireland’s deputy premier has appealed to Iran to “step back from an escalation”, after it pledged to retaliate against Israel over the attack on its consulate in Damascus.

Micheal Martin said there have been “very worrying” developments between Iran and Israel in recent days.

Iran has vowed to retaliate after two of its top generals were killed in an air strike on its consulate in Syria earlier this month, which the US military believes was carried out by Israel.

Mr Martin used his keynote address to Fianna Fail’s conference to appeal for calm.

Speaking in Dublin on Saturday, Mr Martin said: “This weekend there are very worrying developments in tensions between Iran and Israel.

“We join with others in appealing to Iran to step back from an escalation which threatens millions more people in the region with conflict.

“And events internationally remind us again of the urgency of working for lasting peace and reconciliation on this island.”

Turning to events in Gaza, he said that “tireless work” has been carried out over the past six months to try to bring an end to the war.

“Let there be no doubt, the brutal savagery of Hamas on October 7th should be condemned by anyone with basic decency. Nothing could ever justify their objectives and actions,” Mr Martin added.

“They should release all hostages and stop their activities, which have brought great misery to the Palestinian people.

“But as I have said repeatedly, including in direct discussions with the Israeli government, its war in Gaza is causing a shocking humanitarian catastrophe and cannot be justified.

“The evidence shows that war crimes have been committed and the bombardment of the population must be utterly condemned.”

He called for a permanent ceasefire, the release of all hostages and a mass humanitarian relief.

“The only possible route to peace is for a stable, democratic state for the Palestinian people,” Mr Martin added.

“I will soon bring to Government a formal proposal, in coordination with other governments we have worked with throughout this conflict to recognise a Palestinian state.”

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Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern meets current Fianna Fail leader and Tanaiste Micheal Martin as he arrives at the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis (Damien Storan/PA)

He also pledged to clamp down on social media companies, who fail to comply with safety regulations.

Mr Martin said that every school in Ireland will receive funding to support the banning of smartphones during school time.

“Wherever I go in the country I meet parents who are worried about what is becoming the new public health crisis of our time – the impact on children of social media and being constantly online,” he added.

“And to the social media companies our message is clear. Take concrete steps to get underage children off your apps or we will impose those steps on you.

“Online safety – getting children off their screens and back talking to each other – these are objectives we should all share.”

He said there is also a need to tackle the rising cost of living, which he said is being experienced by every family.

The Fianna Fail leader said that Ireland’s largest reserve funds will “guarantee investments”.

“Called the Future Ireland Fund and the Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund, they will mean that the needs of our citizens are provided for, today and well into the future,” he added.

He said the Infrastructure Fund will see that new school buildings, new hospitals facilities, roads and public transport will have secured funding.

Mr Martin also used the speech to address climate issues, saying the extreme weather changes are the direct impact of climate change.

“No community is being hit harder by climate change than our farmers and the wider agri-food industry,” he said.

“They are not only our largest indigenous industry, they are also custodians of our nature and our food security.

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Tanaiste Micheal Martin speaks to the media at the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis, at the Dublin Royal Convention Centre (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We need our farming community. We need sustainable food production.

“Fianna Fail understands that reconciling both food security and action on climate change is a defining challenge of our time – and we have to support farmers in this.

“We are putting in place urgent assistance, but more importantly we will deliver longer-term support.

“New technologies, direct aid to farmers and real partnership for change – this is Fianna Fail’s commitment to secure the future for Irish farming and food production.”

He also said that childcare fees will reduce by 50% from September, pledging to increase funding to create “affordable” childcare places nationwide.

“And when it comes to changes in personal taxes the priority must be families on low and average incomes who are feeling the most pressure from rising prices,” he added.

“That’s what we’ve done this year, and this is our priority for future budgets.

“Every cost adds up, and that’s why we are also cutting charges for many public services.

“Free schoolbooks have been introduced up to the Junior Certificate and will be expanded to all remaining years – permanently lifting a major cost from parents.”

On housing, Mr Martin said the Government is reforming planning laws to stop delays of housing projects.

He added: “In the last four years more houses have been built than in the previous nine years combined. There is more to be done, but that is real momentum.

“Last year alone saw the delivery of 12,000 social homes. And we will go much further. Thousands more are already in the pipeline.”

He said the Government will also increase and expand the 750 euro tax credit for renters.

“At a time of real crisis for renters, an unacceptable number of homes have been diverted to short-term letting and lie idle through much of the year,” he added.

“This year we are going to take much stronger action to return homes to the rental market.

“And we’ll fund a major expansion in dedicated student housing.”