Derry City & Strabane District Council to use social media to highlight BDS campaign

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Derry City and Strabane Council will form a task and finish working group to support the pro-Palestine ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) campaign.

The motion was put forward by Sperrin independent District Councillor Paul Gallagher at a recent Council meeting, and will allow Councillors to ‘meet with a view to bring forward a further report to Council on practical implementation of BDS’.

The motion was amended by Waterside Sinn Féin District Councillor Christopher Jackson to allow Council to use social media platforms – at no cost to the ratepayers – to highlight their support for the campaign.

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Social media posts will include ‘information on organisations who are complicit in human rights violations in Palestine’, with weekly posts until there is a ‘permanent ceasefire in Gaza’.

Independent Councillor Paul Gallagher. (Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)Independent Councillor Paul Gallagher. (Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)
Independent Councillor Paul Gallagher. (Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)

“We know international pressure works,” Colr. Jackson said. “And it’s frustrating that there are legal constraint prohibiting Councils from implementing BDS. This is at at time when there’s deliberate ethnic cleansing and targeting of women and children.”

“I look forward to taking part in the working group and looking at practical ways that we can implement and promote BDS in our area, but I don’t think that we can wait.”

Ballyarnett SDLP District Councillor Brian Tierney supported the amendment and said it was a ‘fantastic idea’.

He said: “We should be sharing any information we can and getting it out to the public.”

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Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson.Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson.
Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson.

“We should be looking at what we can do, and it’s definitely something we will be looking for when the Council’s BDS task force is set up. It’s incredibly important.”

Colr. Tierney said recent BDS moves locally showed how a ‘small, individual step that had a collective impact’.

"So I think that’s the message we should be sending; that we can do it individually, but collectively it makes a huge sound across the World. We need to be pushing that message out.”

Foyleside People Before Profit District Councillor Shaun Harkin said the proposal was a “concrete way of addressing our solidarity with Palestine”.

“Councils across Ireland are voting to support BDS,” Colr. Harkin said.

He said the more people refuse to buy products from those targeted by BDS, the more successful the BDS campaign will be.

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“If we can aid with social media posts, that will be a very good thing.”

Waterside UUP Alderman Darren Guy argued that elected representatives should not be using Council resources to support the campaign.

“Nobody will tell me where I can’t shop or what I can’t buy,” Alderman Guy said.

He said he has been contacted by employers, employees and customers at one local business who felt intimidated when BDS members protested the company recently.

“Myself, or any of my colleagues in UUP, will not be taking a seat at the working group. Ratepayers’ money doesn’t need to be wasted carrying out the BDS campaign on our doorsteps,” he said.

Andrew Balfour,

Local Democracy Reporter