Row over George Galloway event

Row over George Galloway event

Belfast City Council is facing calls to cancel an "irresponsible" speaking engagement by the outspoken politician George Galloway amid heightened tensions over the Gaza conflict.

The council has been asked by one of its members to review the booking at the publicly-owned Ulster Hall, where the Bradford West MP is due to speak on Saturday, 23 August.West Yorkshire Police are investigating the Respect party politician's recent comments urging people in Bradford to reject all Israeli goods, services, academics and tourists.DUP Alderman Brian Kingston said that he wrote to senior Belfast council officers on Monday requesting the review in light of this."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," he said."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."Meanwhile, George Galloway has defended his right to speak at the Belfast event."To be lectured by the DUP on community relations is like being told not to slouch by the Hunchback of Notre Dame."It is simply absurd," he told the U105 Frank Mitchell Phone-In Show."The last time I looked Belfast was a part of the United Kingdom. I think the Alderman [Brian Kingston] wants it to remain that way, and as long as it does, I have a right to travel anywhere within it and to have my say and I will."Mr Galloway described the latest outbreak of war in Gaza as "a blot on humanity."He said the Gazan people had "nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, all the doors are locked. [It's like] shooting fish in a barrel. Most of them women and children and that's the beginning and end of it."Mr Galloway also said he has not been contacted by police regarding his comments.He said: "Members of Parliament are entitled to make political speeches outlining their views."No-one has been in touch with me, even by telephone, from any police force because I don't say things which are illegal."


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