Northern Ireland

George Galloway Ulster Hall event to go ahead

George Galloway Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption George Galloway is due to speak at an event in Belfast

A public speaking event at the Ulster Hall featuring Respect MP George Galloway will go ahead, Belfast City Council has said.

The staging of the 23 August event has been opposed by unionist parties and some city councillors called for a review of it.

Mr Galloway had said he would not withdraw from the event, billed as Saturday Night with George Galloway.

The Ulster Hall is owned by the city council.

On Friday, the council said: "Following a request for a review of the decision to grant the use of the Ulster Hall for an event involving George Galloway, Belfast City Council has received legal advice confirming that any decision to terminate the contract in question is likely to lead to a claim for breach of contract and/or a challenge by way of judicial review in respect of freedom of expression.

"The event will, therefore, proceed as planned."

West Yorkshire Police are investigating recent comments by the Respect MP urging people in Bradford to reject all Israeli goods, services, academics and tourists.

'Demonising a country'

One of those opposed to the event, Democratic Unionist (DUP) councillor Brian Kingston, said the booking should be reviewed in light of the comments and due to tensions in Northern Ireland relating to the the situation in Gaza.

"He goes far beyond calling for a boycott, he is rejecting and demonising an entire country and its people," Mr Kingston said.

Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers also wrote to the council calling for a review.

In response, Mr Galloway said: "To be lectured on good relations by the DUP is a bit like being told to sit up straight by the Hunchback of Notre Dame."

"It's a commercial contract with the Ulster Hall, signed, sealed and will be delivered, except on terms of very severe compensation."

On Tuesday, it emerged that a plaque erected to former Israeli president president Chaim Herzog at his former home in north Belfast had to be removed after a number of recent attacks.

Last month windows were smashed at a synagogue on north Belfast's Somerton Road.

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