Page last updated at 17:56 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

SF wants assembly debate on Gaza

Stormont protest
Sinn Fein assembly members stage a protest

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has pressed the assembly speaker over having an emergency debate on Gaza.

The speaker had ruled against an emergency debate on the grounds it was not a local issue.

Sinn Féin organised a protest on the steps of Stormont on Monday demanding a ceasefire and dialogue in Gaza. A number of SDLP MLAs also took part.

UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy said Sinn Féin's attitude was "one-sided" and would "do nothing to bring peace".

"Right-thinking people across the globe will mourn the loss of innocent life in Gaza - and Israeli forces must take every precaution to protect civilian life in Gaza," he said.

"But this does not detract from the reality that Hamas and its commitment to terrorism and radical Islamist ideology are the stumbling block to both peace and security for Israel and the emergence of an independent, democratic Palestinian state."

Meanwhile, the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson has criticised a rally in Belfast city centre on Saturday over the Gaza issue.

Mr Donaldson accused the organisers, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, of showing a lack of balance.

"I don't recall the ICTU holding rallies at city hall when hundreds of Israeli citizens were dying on the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and so on with suicide bombers exploding bombs in school buses, cafes, restaurants.

"Did they hold a rally when Hamas went on the rampage in Gaza and slaughtered hundreds of members of Fatah, their political opponents?" he said.

Peter Bunting, assistant general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, denied they were guilty of bias.

"We called on Saturday the same as the United Nations called for - an end to all hostilities," he said.

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