DUP criticises ‘antisemitic’ pro-Palestine banner from council meeting protest

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The DUP has blasted the displaying of a banner with “antisemitic” lettering during a protest which disrupted a meeting of Derry City and Strabane Council.

The incident happened as pro-Palestinian protesters entered the council chamber in the Guildhall in Londonderry during a meeting on Wednesday evening.

Several of the individuals wore masks as they displayed a banner calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland.

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It read “Expel The Israeli Ambassador”, with some voicing concern that the s’s on the banner were styled in a similar way to the lettering used by the SS during the Nazi regime in Germany last century.

It followed an earlier peaceful protest outside the council building in Derry.

Catherine Hutton, from the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said while she agreed with the statement calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, she “does not agree with the Nazi insignias”.

She told the BBC that she asked for the banner to be removed and for anyone wearing masks to take them off “because it was inappropriate”.

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“We do not condone any form of antisemitism whatsoever,” she added.

Mayor Patricia Logue halted the meeting at that point after a number of councillors and staff left the building.

She said some staff “had felt a bit unnerved by what had happened”.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said they are aware of an online video of a verbal altercation at a meeting in the Guildhall in Derry on Wednesday November 22.

“Enquiries are ongoing,” they said.

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In a statement, the DUP group on the council condemned what they described as an “invasion of the council chamber during a meeting of the council by pro-Palestinian protestors, which included the display of an antisemitic banner, abuse of elected representatives and antisemitic chanting”.

They said significant questions arise for both the chief executive of the council and the Mayor following the incident.

They claimed there was “no attempt by the Mayor to challenge or restrict the activities of the protestors”.

People Before Profit councillor Shaun Harkin claimed the DUP is “deflecting from the fact that they have cheered on Israel’s genocidal war – that’s the main thing here”.

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“There was a great protest by people who were coming to the council to say ‘what are you going to do to help stop a slaughter in Gaza’,” he said.

“The banner said ‘expel the Israeli ambassador’, that’s the corporate position of the council. The Israeli ambassador should be expelled, there is nothing antisemitic about saying that.

“If the banner hadn’t got those symbols on it, the DUP would say the exact same thing, so that’s why this is about deflection.”