A POLITICAL storm is brewing over the planned arrival in Belfast next week of controversial MP George Galloway.
The DUP group on Belfast City Council has formally requested a review of the decision by Council officers to grant the use of the Ulster Hall for a speaking engagement by Mr Galloway next Saturday, August 23.
Deputy Group Leader Alderman Brian Kingston wrote to senior Council officers on Monday requesting the review in light of the recent highly controversial comments made by George Galloway MP, which are being investigated by the West Yorkshire police.
Video footage shows Mr Galloway speaking at a recent public meeting saying,
“We have declared Bradford an Israel-free zone. We don’t want any Israeli goods. We don’t want any Israeli services. We don’t want any Israeli academics, coming to the university or the college. We don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford, even if any of them had thought of doing so. We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel. And you have to do the same.”
Alderman Kingston said the invite to Mr Galloway should now be reviewed.
“George Galloway goes far beyond calling for a boycott. He is rejecting and demonising an entire country and its people, describing it as illegal, barbarous and savage.
“By extension, many will view these comments as applying to all people of Jewish faith. I understand the police are investigating his comments as incitement to hatred.
“We have grave concerns about the Council providing a venue for this speaker at this time of heightened tension and believe it would be irresponsible to do so.
“We have requested that the review of this booking be carried out from the perspective of the Council’s good relations policy, also seeking views from the PSNI on the potential for incitement to hatred.
“The Ulster Hall is a Council-owned facility subsidised by the ratepayers of Belfast. We have a duty to those ratepayers to ensure that it is used appropriately.
“We are calling on other political parties on the Council to support this request. We are deeply concerned that hosting this speaker at this time will be harmful to community relations in Belfast and could incite hatred towards Israeli and Jewish people in our city, as well as causing reputational damage to the Council.”
Yesterday, Belfast Daily first revealed that a blue circle plaque erected on a house in north Belfast to former Israeli president Chaim Herzog was removed after the building at Cliftonpark Avenue was attacked with stones and paint.