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DUP motion to light up Belfast City Hall in Israeli colours fails

Belfast City Hall will be lit up in white as part of a call for a ceasefire in Gaza, after a DUP proposal to illuminate the building in the Israeli colours failed.

DUP councillor Dean McCullough proposed lighting City Hall in blue and white to show solidarity with Israel, but his motion did not attract sufficient votes to be carried.

A counter-proposal by Sinn Fein’s Matt Garrett, calling for a ceasefire and the lighting of the building in white, was carried.

Councillor Garrett’s motion passed with 14 votes from Sinn Fein, Alliance and the SDLP. The DUP objected with five votes.

DUP councillor Sarah Bunting spoke on behalf of Mr McCullough, who did not appear at a debate on the matter.

She told the chamber the request was submitted the day after Hamas’s attack.

The councillor said: “This will show a stand against a proscribed terrorist organisation that indiscriminately tortured and murdered men, women and children, that attacked and raped women, that kidnapped men, women, children and elderly, including Holocaust survivors.

“There are plenty of previous examples of this council lighting up in solidarity with countries under terrorist attack.

“In 2015 we lit up in the colours of the French flag in the wake of attacks in Paris and Nice, and in 2016 we lit up in black, yellow and red after the Brussels terror attacks.

“In 2017 we lit up in red, white and blue after the terrorist attack in London, and again in 2017 with the Union flag flying after the Manchester attack.

“Last year we lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag after the attack from Russia.

“These have previously been approved through emails, and through party group leaders meetings.

“This was taken to party group leaders last week, where it was refused, but it was agreed there and then when [Alliance councillor Michael] Long [previously] proposed lighting it up white.

“We didn’t object to that, but we would like this request to be heard, and we would like clarity as to why this request was sent to committee, when other requests have been decided [elsewhere].”

Sinn Fein’s Ciaran Beattie said: “What happened on October 7 [the Hamas attacks] was a war crime. It was condemned widely across the world, and rightly so.

“What has happened since then has been multiple war crimes — the cutting off of water, food, electricity, the starving of over two million people and the bombing of schools, hospitals, medical facilities, with over 1,000 children dead.

“The rationale for this council agreeing to light City Hall in white is to show our solidarity with all the people who have died and to call for peace.

“The killing of innocent people is wrong, no matter who does it, no matter where they do it, and it needs to be condemned. But we need peace in the Middle East [and] we need dialogue.”

Alliance councillor Sam Nelson reminded the chamber the idea to light City Hall white was initially proposed by Mr Long.

No details were given during the meeting as to when the building would be illuminated.

Israel has said it does not plan to take long-term control over Gaza after an expected ground offensive to root out the Hamas militants that rule the territory.

The military continued to punish the coastal enclave with airstrikes yesterday as authorities inched closer to bringing aid to desperate families and hospitals.

Israel bombed areas in southern Gaza where Palestinians had been told to seek safety as it sought to destroy Hamas in retaliation for attacks that killed more than 1,000 people two weeks ago.

Fighting between Israel and militants in Lebanon also continued yesterday, prompting evacuations of border towns and fears of a wider conflict.

Source: Belfast Telegraph