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Irish council to light up buildings in support of Gaza

People come together to support Palestine as they walk to the Israeli embassy in Dublin, Ireland [Tommy Morrin/Facebook]

A Northern Irish Town will light up the city building in support of Palestinians in Gaza despite strong opposition against a public display of solidarity by local pro-Israeli politicians.

Irish Republican Party Sinn Fein raised a motion at a special meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council at the Guildhall on Monday, to light up civic buildings in the colours of the Palestinian flag for two days following last week’s violence in Gaza.

The motion was passed by 22 votes to one following a lively council. According to the local press, Derry Now, there were walkouts and accusations of terrorism and immorality by the main Unionist parties, who have strong ties with the pro-Israel lobby group, Northern Ireland Friends of Israel.

Councillor Sandra Duffy, who proposed the motion, said: “This is an important issue and we need to send a clear message of solidarity.

“The people of Derry have a long history of standing against aggression and last week two rallies in protest at what happened in Gaza were held.”

“Israel must be held accountable for its actions,” she said.

READ: Ireland’s book of condolence for Palestinians killed in Gaza blocked by pro-Israel groups

Seconding the proposal, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) group leader Martin Reilly said: “The actions of the Israeli defence forces are of grave concern around the world.”

“It is not appropriate for defence forces to use live ammunition for crowd control and that has led to these deaths and injuries.”

“There is a degree of anger in this city because of the history of Bloody Sunday.”

This was a welcome victory for the two pro-Palestinian parties in Northern Ireland after the Unionist parties blocked Sinn Fein from opening a book of condolence in Belfast last week.

Local MPs insisted that debate was a waste of time and that there were issues of greater concern within Derry that needed to be discussed than the plight of Palestinians. But it appears that the same local councillors who didn’t want to attend the meeting proposed a plan to have council buildings lit up in the colours of the American Stars and Stripe flag for 48-hours to remember the victims of last week’s Texas school shooting.

Derry made a name for itself after it became the first local authority in the north to pass a motion boycotting Israeli goods. A Sinn Fein motion backing the BDS campaign, which encourages the international community to turn its back on Israel because of its treatment of Palestinians, was passed in 2016.

READ: Dublin City Council backs BDS, urges expulsion of Israeli ambassador

Effective steps to implement BDS were discussed during Monday’s meeting, according to local sources. Local papers revealed that the council is considering the expense of writing to every home and business in the area to inform them of the products on the BDS list of products.

“If people didn’t take a stand on these issues, then we would still have apartheid,” said Duffy.

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