Five independent councillors handed in their Hewlett Packard printers in “solidarity with the Palestinian people” at the monthly meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council on Thursday but Sinn Féin accused them of “stunt politics” and the DUP said: “If you don’t want them given them over to the community.”
Independent Councillor Paul Gallagher kicked off the decommissioning round as Council ratified minutes confirming last month’s motion to invite Basel Mansour, head of the Bil’in Village Council in the West Bank, to the city.
Mr Gallagher, who with fellow Independent Gary Donnelly, placed his HP printer on top of his desk, announced: “I’ll be handing back my HP printer. I won’t be seeking another printer so there’ll be no additional costs to the ratepayer.”
Waterside DUP Alderman David Ramsey inquired whether or not the printers could be redistributed to community groups. He explained that a printer in the Lincoln Court Community Centre was on the blink and suggested they’d have “no problem taking it”.
The Mayor, Hilary McClintock, suggested Council officers could look into the redistribution of Mr Gallagher’s printer before independents, Gary Donnelly, Darren O’Reilly, Warren Robinson and Sean Carr, all said they were handing theirs back as well.
Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson said he supported the ongoing Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel and referred to his party’s record of solidarity with the Palestinian people, which, he noted, “spanned decades”. But he accused the independents of engaging in “stunt politics” and of being motivated by a desire to put the focus on Sinn Féin. He said the party will await a paper, which is being prepared by council officers on how best to implement the Council’s policy of support for the BDS campaign.
SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly said his party also supported the BDS campaign and would continue to work with Council officers to this end but said he didn’t believe handing in printers, which had already been bought and paid for at the ratepayers’ expense, would achieve anything for the Palestinian people.