Council votes to light buildings in support of Palestine

Derry City Council offices
Image caption The Derry City and Strabane District Council offices in Londonderry could be one of the civic buildings lit in the colours of the Palestinian flag

Councillors in Londonderry have voted to light up local government buildings in the colours of the Palestinian flag following violence in Gaza.

The motion was passed at a special meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council on Monday.

Civic buildings will be lit in black, white, green and red for a 48-hour period after the Sinn Féin motion passed by 22 votes to one.

More than 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces last week in Gaza.

Sinn Fein councillor Sandra Duffy, who proposed the motion, said the vote will send a message of solidarity to the people of Palestine.

"We want to show that people in Ireland, people in Derry are standing in solidarity with them," she told BBC Radio Foyle.

Independent unionist councillor Maurice Devenney voted against the motion while DUP councillors did not attend the special council meeting.

DUP councillor David Ramsey said his party's representatives were too busy working on local issues to attend.

He said the council was "commemorating people who died in what was realistically an attempted invasion of Israel."

"We are now lining ourselves up to Hamas, with terrorists," he said.

Council has yet to confirm when the district's civic buildings will display the colours of the Palestinian flag.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The United Nations secretary general has called for an independent investigation into last week's violence in Gaza

Derry City and Strabane District Council also voted to explore the cost of a leaflet drop that would notify every home and business of Israeli products listed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The BDS movement campaigns for a total boycott of Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians.

The council adopted a corporate policy in support of the BDS campaign in October 2016.

It was put forward by Independent councillor Paul Gallagher and backed by a majority of councillors.

"There is confusion about what is on the list and this council has to get the message out to every household and business," Mr Gallagher said.

"The most effective way to do that is for it to land on people's doormats," he added.

Some councillors voiced concerns over the potential cost and the effectiveness of a leaflet drop.

SDLP councillor Tina Gardiner said: "I believe in the boycott but I don't see the sense of putting out thousands of bits of paper many of which will just end up in the bin."

Independent Unionist Maurice Devenney said writing to ratepayers would be a waste of council resources when the correspondence would "be ignored, ripped up and thrown in the bin."

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