The issue unfolded at Moyle District Council's meeting on Monday, November 27, where Sinn Fein’s Colum Thompson highlighted the “renewed indiscriminate air and ground attacks from Israel, into our twin the Municipality of Gaza.” He asked Moyle District Council to express its “total repulsion at these actions and reiterate our solidarity with the besieged people of Gaza.”
This immediately prompted a raft of protests from Unionist councilors led by Robert McIlroy, who said that “we are dealing with terrorists” and “we should not be associated with that.” He called on the council to withdraw from its 'alignment' with Gaza.
Independent councilor Paudie McShane, the architect of the twinning arrangement, said he was “disappointed” by the motion as the twinning was a humanitarian rather than a political gesture. At his request, the Sinn Fein motion was withdrawn.
In spite of protests from the party and McShane, who branded the situation “unbelievable,” a vote to withdraw from the twinning arrangement was then pushed through.
McShane immediately branded the decision “disgusting for the children of Gaza.” Afterwards, he accused Sinn Fein of putting “their own egos ahead of what is right by Gaza.” “The motion by Councilor Thompson should not have been placed on the agenda given I had personally warned Sinn Fein of the repercussions of their stunt ten days ago.”
McShane added that the Antrim to Gaza Group will continue to implement the terms of the twinning agreement given it was a permanent twinning mechanism. “This vote changes nothing," he said.
AN elderly blind man and his guide dog in Whitehead were left to fend for themselves as another dog running off its lead attacked them, only for the female owner to walk away without offering any assistance.
The man was walking his guide dog in the area of Garden Village on a recent evening when the incident occurred. He was knocked to the ground between two parked cars while the owner of the attacking dog walked away. He spent several minutes unable to get up and eventually gained the attention of two passing women who helped him to his feet.
The man declined an interview. Relatives said he was left shaken by the attack but has now regained the confidence to take his daily walks around the area again with his guide dog who remained unharmed.
The woman involved sustained a head and wrist injury in an attempt to restrain her dog but has since came forward to offer an apology to the man and his family.
Guide Dogs Northern Ireland stressed the importance of dog control to owners and suggested a change in the law to for stiffer punishments in future attacks.
"This was a very upsetting experience for the guide dog owner. On average across the U.K., eight guide dogs are attacked every month by other dogs,” spokesperson Pete Swan said.
“Blind and partially sighted people rely on their guide dogs to get out and about, and these attacks can leave them a virtual prisoner in their own home. We want the law changed across the UK to enable the authorities to treat an attack on a guide dog and other assistance dogs as an attack on a person, in recognition of the full impact of these attacks."