Gaza motion carried by Derry City Council despite unionist rejection

GAZA RALLY. . . .The rally in support of 'Gaza' pictured making its way down Shipquay Street to the Guildhall on Tuesday night. DER3014MC035
GAZA RALLY. . . .The rally in support of 'Gaza' pictured making its way down Shipquay Street to the Guildhall on Tuesday night. DER3014MC035
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A motion calling for the “appalling loss of life in Gaza” to be condemned has been passed by Derry City Council, despite unionists refusing to back it.

Sinn Fein Derry City Councillor Colly Kelly asked for standing orders to be suspended so he could bring forward the motion at the July monthly meeting of Derry City Council in the Guildhall on Tuesday.

Sinn Fein Derry Councillor Colly Kelly.

Sinn Fein Derry Councillor Colly Kelly.

At the suggestion of SDLP Councillor Eamon McAuley, a minute silence was observed by all councillors in attendance in memory of those who have lost their lives in the violence over recent weeks.

The bloodshed in Gaza was raised just hours before hundreds upon hundreds of people marched from Free Derry Corner into the city centre on Tuesday night in solidarity with the people of Gaza, with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness among those taking part.

The public event was one of several taking place across the north west this week.

Putting forward the motion in the council chamber, Colr. Kelly said that the mounting death toll in Gaza, particularly the number of women of children, had touched everybody.

He proposed “that this council condemns in the strongest possible terms the appalling loss of life in Gaza”.

He also called on the international community- including the United Nations and the European Union- to take action towards ending the violence, lifting the blockade on Gaza and working towards peace for the Palestinian people.

The motion was seconded by his party colleague Paul Fleming.

SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly spoke of the large number of local people who had “demonstrated their horror at what’s happening in that part of the world”.

He added that the SDLP had no hesitation in supporting the motion, and asked for a slight amendment to add in that the council were calling for humanitarian assistance to be stepped up.

DUP Councillor Maurice Devenney said the unionist block on the council could not support the motion as it stands “because for us it is a very, very one-sided motion”.

Colr. Devenney elaborated that there was “no mention here of the attacks continually carried out in Israel”.

Colr. Kelly said that he was more than happy to include Colr. Reilly’s amendment, before the moment’s silence was proposed and observed.

The motion was carried afterwards by 15 councillors to six.

Independent Derry-Strabane Councillor Darren O’Reilly meanwhile is already scheduled to bring forward an motion on Gaza at the monthly meeting of the supercouncil on Thursday.

Councillor Reilly will ask his fellow Derry-Strabane Councillors to “call on the Israeli Government to immediately cease the collective punishment being imposed on the people of Gaza through its embargoes and ongoing military onslaught”.