Israel and Sun boycotts ‘retrograde step’ - First Minister

First Minister Arlene Foster has branded Derry City and Strabane Council’s call for a boycott of the Sun newspaper and Israel a “very retrograde step”.

Speaking in the Assembly Mrs Foster added: “Many of us have been the subject of investigations and scrutiny by the press; that is what they do and that is their job.

First Minister Arlene Foster.

First Minister Arlene Foster.

“I was alarmed to see the motion in relation to Israel that was put forward in that council as well, particularly at a time when Jews in Belfast — we are told this by the rabbi — are feeling very intimidated and under attack. The council should reflect on that.

“We have heard a lot from other parties in the Assembly about equality and non-discrimination and about making sure that everybody feels at home in Northern Ireland. What about the Jewish people? Do they not have a right to feel at home in Northern Ireland as well? They are very welcome and they are a very key part of the community here in Northern Ireland.”

The First Minister was responding to a question from DUP party colleague, Foyle MLA Gary Middleton who was seeking assurance her department would ensure that Londonderry and Strabane “are well represented even if the council is focused on other areas”.

A former councillor, Mr Middleton claims “divisive” boycott motions are making the local government authority an even colder place for Unionists.

However, Sinn Fein Councillor Christopher Jackson welcomed the move to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign against Israel, while SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly said that underpinning the BDS Campaign were the values of freedom, justice and equality.