DUP councillors have walked out of a council meeting after saying a motion condemning Donald Trump’s claim that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel was a “ridiculous publicity stunt”.
Councillor Hilary McClintock blasted the motion tabled by independent councillor Gary Donnelly during Derry City and Strabane District Council’s December meeting on Thursday night.
Mr Donnelly had urged the council to go on record that it “views with concern and dismay the recent decision by Donald Trump to designate Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”.
He added: “Given that the corporate position of this council is to support the Palestinian cause and in the interest of peace in the Middle East this council calls on the US president to reverse his decision.”
Mr Donnelly said Mr Trump’s comments and his plans to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “recklessly ignores” the warnings of the international community.
He said the decision “flouts international consensus and is a dangerous precedent”.
Ms McClintock, however, said she found it hard to believe anyone would think that Derry and Strabane Council calling on the most powerful man in the world to reverse his decision would have any impact.
“Who does councillor Donnelly think he is?” she said.
“We are achieving nothing by bringing motions like this before our council.
“We are becoming a joke by our lenient interpretation of standing orders which continues to allow some members to seek publicity.
“The DUP have had enough of it. This is a ridiculous publicity stunt and we are leaving the chamber now and it just remains for us to wish you all a merry Christmas.”
With that, the DUP councillors exited the chamber, drawing criticism from Sinn Fein and the SDLP.
The UUP and independent unionist councillor Maurice Devenney also expressed similar concerns to those of the DUP.
Sinn Fein councillor Caoimhe McKnight backed the motion and said her party had a record of standing up for the rights of Palestinians and would continue to do so.
Speaking about the DUP walkout, SDLP councillor John Boyle said: “It is quite interesting the DUP accused councillor Donnelly of stunt politics and then walked out of the room which was stunt politics par excellence.”
Independent councillor Warren Robinson suggested an amendment – which was backed by the majority of councillors including Sinn Fein and the SDLP – which stated that the council should write to President Trump directly expressing their concerns and asking him to reverse his decision.
The amended motion was carried by 28 votes to three.