Heated debate in Causeway Coast and Glens Council chambers over Gaza ceasefire proposal
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The unsuccessful motion, proposed by Sinn Féin Councillor Ciarán McQuillan at the full meeting of Causeway Coast and Glens Council on Tuesday, February 6, condemned the actions of Hamas on October 7 and called for the council to “endorse a ceasefire, in accordance with the ruling of the Hague’s court”.
The motion also requested that councillors “affirm their commitment to peace and the alleviation of human suffering” in the region and “advocate for the release of all hostages”.
“Supporting a ceasefire demonstrates our Council’s adherence to humanitarian principles,” Cllr McQuillan said. “And the current death toll in Gaza surpasses 26,000 individuals, including over 10,000 children. As a council committed to upholding humanitarian and international legal standards, we call for an end to bombardment and encourage a ceasefire.”
DUP Councillor Mervyn Storey accused the motion of partiality, as they were highlighting “everybody’s tears, unless you’re an Israeli”.
“The death in the Middle East is horrendous,” Cllr Storey said. “Whether it’s Palestinians or Israelis. But if we are gong to condemn, we need to move away of selective condemnation.
“I do welcome the fact that the party Cllr McQuillan represents recognises that murder is wrong. It may have taken a long time to admit that. In terms of the Middle East, it would be wrong to only concentrate on one element and ignore Hamas as a terrorist organisation,” he said.
PUP Councillor Russell Watton there was “no point in condemning violence if you stand on IRA platforms and eulogise the very same violence.”
“I believe in a two-state solution, that Palestinians should have a state of their own, but Hamas want the eradication of Israel,” he added.
UUP Councillor Darryl Wilson questioned how appropriate and valuable it was for a local borough council to demand a ceasefire in Gaza.
“I want to ask - how will a motion being accepted by this council have absolutely any impact on a conflict in the Middle East? We can all lobby for things, but I wonder what the motion’s impact will be,” said Cllr Wilson.
“There’s an egregious motive in these motions; to make headlines and add a flag to your profile picture. It’s nearly an insult to those losing their lives in conflicts across the world.”
Cllr McQuillan argued that the motion was to “show the council’s position and support humanitarian law”. He added: “Collective international support is a pressing issue for peace, so I take it as an insult when you we shouldn’t bring it forward.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Leanne Peacock said accusations of partial condemnation by councillors were unfounded.
“I sometimes wonder if people in this chamber actually listen to what’s being said,” Cllr Peacock said. “Or do they make stuff up in their head?”
“I don’t know how condemning all attacks is selective condemnation. A call for a ceasefire offends no one.”
The motion, proposed by Cllr McQuillan, was unsuccessful.