Northern Ireland

Chaim Herzog: Call for plaque to be displayed at Belfast City Hall

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Media captionAn Ulster History Circle blue plaque was removed from the property at Cliftonpark Avenue

Some unionists and members of the Jewish community want a plaque commemorating a ex-Israeli president displayed at Belfast City Hall.

An Ulster History Circle blue plaque erected at Chaim Herzog's birthplace on Cliftonpark Avenue was removed following attacks last month.

Anti-Israeli graffiti was daubed on the building and objects were thrown at the premises.

Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon said she was attempting to "progress" the request.

Mr Herzog was born in Belfast in 1918, and raised in Dublin.

'Great concern'

He fought in the British Army during World War Two and served as the sixth president of Israel from 1983 to 1993.

A letter was sent to the lord mayor of Belfast last month and has been signed by more than 500 members of the Jewish community in Northern Ireland and the UK, and their supporters.

It said the plaque's removal was "of great concern" to the Jewish community.

It stated: "We call upon you as lord mayor of all the citizens of Belfast to please demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusivity by inviting the Ulster History Circle to lend the plaque to Belfast City Hall for display, until such time as it can be restored to the building where Chaim Herzog was born on Cliftonpark Avenue."

'Public stand'

The letter also said that "a series of hate attacks should not be allowed to erase such a significant and unique part of Belfast's heritage".

The lord mayor was asked to "make a public stand" by "making arrangements for the plaque's display at City Hall".

It was forwarded to the lord mayor by Stephen Jaffe, the representative of the Belfast Jewish community on the Board of Deputies, which is the representative body for the Jewish community in the UK.

Signatories include DUP MPs Nigel Dodds and Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP MEP Diane Dodds, and two MLAs, the DUP's Nelson McCausland and Danny Kinahan from the Ulster Unionist Party.

A number of councillors have also signed the letter.

In a statement, Belfast City Council said: "The public display of items at City Hall isn't within the authority of the lord mayor."

However, it said that: "Councillor Mallon has raised this with the relevant departments within council so that protocols can be checked, with a view to progressing this request."

The council has also contacted the Ulster History Circle to ask what their plans are for storage and re-erection of the plaque.

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