Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein to open own book of condolences for Gaza victims at City hall following unionist opposition

By Andrew Madden, Local Democracy Reporter

Sinn Fein have decided to open their own book of condolence for those killed in Gaza earlier this week, after similar requests were blocked by the two main unionist parties.

Both Sinn Fein and the SDLP had requested a book of condolence be opened at City Hall after more than 50 Palestinians were killed and thousands were injured on the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces on Monday.

However, per council procedure, a book of condolence can only be opened with the agreement of all parties at City Hall.

The two nationalist parties and Alliance were in favour of opening the book, however it is understood the two main unionist parties were not.

SDLP council group leader Tim Attwood said he was “disappointed” that unionists blocked the book of condolence “to mark the killings and injuries inflicted on the people of Gaza”.

“People of Belfast are horrified and wish to express their sympathy at the tragic loss of life,” he added.

Now Sinn Fein’s group leader on Belfast City Council, Deirdre Hargey, has said her party will be opening their own book of condolence this weekend in the Sinn Fein room at City Hall, open to all members of the public.

“I requested on Tuesday that a book of condolence be opened in Belfast City Hall for the victims of the massacre carried out by Israeli forces on Palestinians in Gaza,” Councillor Hargey said.

“I had hoped that all parties on Belfast City Council would support this request. However the unionist parties have failed to give their support which is extremely disappointing given the scale of this massacre by Israeli forces. 

"This was an atrocity and the brutal nature of the Israeli Army was laid bare for all to see.

“Sinn Féin will not be put off by this unionist refusal to support a book of condolence and we will be opening our own book of condolence this Saturday from 12-5pm in the Sinn Féin room at Belfast City Hall to allow citizens to come to City Hall and show their solidarity and sympathy with the people of Palestine.”

Palestinian health officials say more than 100 Palestinians have been killed and 10,000 injured by Israeli troops over the past six weeks in protests along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Sixty protestors died on Monday alone, when almost 50,000 took part in demonstrations coinciding with the controversial relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

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