Northern Ireland

Belfast City Council seeks legal advice on George Galloway event

George Galloway Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption George Galloway is due to speak at an event in Belfast

Belfast City Council is seeking legal advice about a public speaking event in the city featuring George Galloway.

The staging of the event has been opposed by unionist parties and some city councillors have called for a review.

Mr Galloway has said he will not withdraw from the event, billed as Saturday Night with George Galloway,

The Respect MP for Bradford West is due to speak at the council-owned Ulster Hall on Saturday 23 August.

A council spokesperson said: "The issue is now being considered and legal advice is being sought as part of that.

"The George Galloway event scheduled to take place at The Ulster Hall on Saturday 23 August has been booked by a third party promoter.

"Belfast City Council has simply hired the venue to this promoter who takes all responsibility for its planning and content. The council's programming policy does not preclude political events organised by third party promoters.

West Yorkshire Police are investigating recent comments by the Respect MP urging people in Bradford to reject all Israeli goods, services, academics and tourists.

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Media captionCouncillor Brian Kingston said he wants the event to be reviewed

One of those opposed to the event Democratic Unionist (DUP) councillor Brian Kingston said: "I have written to Belfast City Council director of development expressing concern about a booking for George Galloway to speak at the Ulster Hall next week," he said.

"We have asked for that booking to be reviewed, we think it is inappropriate at this time of tension in light of his highly controversial comments.

"He goes far beyond calling for a boycott, he is rejecting and demonising an entire country and its people."

Mr Kingston said DUP councillors were also seeking advice from the police on the potential for incitement to hatred in relation to Mr Galloway's comments.

Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers has also written to the council calling for a review.

'Hunchback of Notre Dame'

In response, Mr Galloway said: "To be lectured on good relations by the DUP is a bit like being told to sit up straight by the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

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Media captionGeorge Galloway said comments his views are extreme were "ridiculous".

"It's a commercial contract with the Ulster Hall, signed, sealed and will be delivered, except on terms of very severe compensation.

"A great deal of money has already been spent, the tickets are going like hot cakes, so a great deal of income would be lost and that would be a very bad deal for the taxpayers in Belfast."

The DUP said Mr Galloway's 'hunchback remark was "meaningless abuse" and "an attempt to deflect attention from his extremist views".

On Tuesday, it emerged that a plaque erected to former Israeli president president Chaim Herzog at his former home in north Belfast had to be removed after a number of recent attacks.

Last month windows were smashed at a synagogue on north Belfast's Somerton Road.

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