A month on from the devastating Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel, which has resulted in ongoing retaliation on Gaza from the Israeli military, there have been calls from local councillors for the Irish and British governments to immediately expel Israeli ambassadors.

During Tuesday night’s meeting (November 7) of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council at The Grange in Omagh, Sinn Féin Councillor Dermot Browne brought forward a Motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in Palestine and Israel, the provision of safe humanitarian corridors, and for the international community to work towards a true and lasting peace settlement.

This was seconded by party colleague, Councillor John Feely.


John Feely, Sinn Féin councillor.

John Feely, Sinn Féin councillor.


This was seconded by party colleague, Councillor John Feely.

Outlining the Motion, Councillor Browne said that he has been “absolutely horrified watching recent events unfold in Israel and Palestine”.

He continued: “It’s important that we condemn Hamas for their barbaric attack that they carried out on October 7 – the deliberate killing of innocent civilians cannot be justified under any circumstances.

“Nor can the taking of hostages, which is defined as a war crime under international law. All hostages should be released immediately,” said Councillor Browne.

“The actions of the Israeli military since October 7 have shocked the world. The Israeli military has embarked on an onslaught the like of which we have never seen against the people of Gaza,” he said.

He added: “These are the actions of a government determined to punish every man, woman and child in Gaza.

“This is collective punishment. This is revenge. This is ethnic cleansing,” claimed Councillor Browne.

In an amendment to the Motion, Councillor Browne added a call for the Irish government to immediately expel the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland.

“The Israeli government has so far ignored all calls for a ceasefire and humanitarian pauses, so all diplomatic and political leaders need to be used to put pressure on the Israeli government,” he said.

Councillor Feely, whilst seconding the motion, highlighted that the “number-one priority” is a ceasefire.

He outlined some of the various diplomats, political leaders and charities who are calling for an immediate ceasefire, including John Taylor, former Deputy Leader of the UUP, who Councillor Feely described as a man that “I don’t agree with too often”.

He continued: “John Taylor, whilst repeatedly calling for ceasefires, has stated that ‘the Israeli slaughter of innocent Palestinian children must end’.

“All options must be deployed to achieve ceasefires, to achieve the immediate release of all hostages, and to get humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people,” said Councillor Feely.

Referring to Councillor Browne’s amendment to the Motion, he added: “And finally, the position of the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland is now untenable. The Ambassador should be expelled immediately.”

However, the amendment was met with contention from the Unionist side and it was brought to a vote, with 21 members voting for the amendment, nine against, and three abstentions, thus the amendment was carried.

Further amendment

DUP Councillor Mark Buchanan brought forward a second amendment to the Motion.


Mark Buchanan, DUP councillor.

Mark Buchanan, DUP councillor.


It stated: “This Council calls for an immediate ceasefire in Palestine and Israel and calls for the immediate release of innocent hostages taken by Hamas following the terrorist attack, and calls for the provision of safe humanitarian corridors, and further calls on the international community to work towards a true and lasting peace settlement for the people of the Middle East.

“The Council also deplores reports that anti-Semitism has increased in Northern Ireland since [the] October 7 attacks on Israel and sends a united message that such racism is unacceptable.”

Councillor Buchanan continued by commenting that “Israel has a right to defend itself and its population, as well as seeking the release of innocent hostages”.

He added: “The Motion that’s proposed makes no mention of those people being held in Gaza without any promise of release.

“We know that Hamas engage in crimes, including torture against innocent people, so why would any country accept a ceasefire while that is continuing against its citizens?

“There’s absolutely no moral equivalence between Israel Defence Forces who are a recognised army, that are pledged to abide by international law, and Hamas, who are a terrorist organisation who engage in terrorism.”

He concluded: “We do not support calls for the Israeli ambassadors in the UK or Ireland to be expelled at this time, and we will not be supporting the amended Motion in its current form.”

Councillor Buchanan’s proposed amendment was seconded by party colleague, Councillor Paul Robinson.

UUP Councillor Mark Ovens commented that what is happening in both Israel and Palestine is “horrific” and he had hoped that the debate would have been “balanced and a genuine discussion”.


Mark Ovens, UUP councillor.

Mark Ovens, UUP councillor.


“Then unfortunately I saw a number of the amendments specifically relating to the ambassador, and even an amendment from a party that last week, whenever they were faced with the same issue, either didn’t support or opposed, are now calling for that exact same thing tonight,” said Councillor Ovens.

He added: “I do welcome the clear acknowledgement from the mover of this Motion tonight that the actions of Hamas were totally, utterly and absolutely wrong.

“I do, however, have to express disappointment that they are still selective in the condemnation of terrorism.”

Believing that in the event of a ceasefire, Hamas would “run amok”, Councillor Ovens concluded: “Whilst the Motion has been greatly improved by Councillor Buchanan and Councillor Robinson, I’m not sure why they’ve retained the overly simplistic call for a ceasefire, noting Hamas’ stance at the time.”

The amendment proposed by Councillor Buchanan and seconded by Councillor Robinson was passed by a vote of 21 for, 10 against and two abstentions.

Amendment three

A third amendment was proposed by SDLP Councillor Adam Gannon.


Adam Gannon, SDLP councillor.

Adam Gannon, SDLP councillor.


A third amendment was proposed by SDLP Councillor Adam Gannon.

Councillor Gannon strongly condemned the attacks of Hamas on innocent civilians, calling it “abhorrent”.

He said it is “understandable” that Israeli people wanted action to be taken against Hamas, but that this does not give Israel the right to commit war crimes, claiming: “An immediate ceasefire is needed and ambassadors for governments committing war crimes with no intention of stopping and without remorse have no place on these islands.”

Councillor Gannon’s proposed amendment was to write to both the British and Irish governments to expel the Israeli ambassadors.

“I would like to add that I’m glad that Sinn Féin have changed their position on this and have seen sense, and that they’ll be supporting this, unlike in some other Council chambers.”

He continued: “War criminals should be prosecuted, whether they be from Hamas or Israel, and just to recognise that a two-state solution is the only recognisable solution.”

SDLP Councillor Bernard McGrath seconded Councillor Gannon’s proposed amendment to the Motion.

Alliance Councillor Stephen Donnelly commented that on account of how urgent it is that an alternative to the present violence is secured, he had been content with the Motion as originally presented.


Stephen Donnelly, Alliance councillor.

Stephen Donnelly, Alliance councillor.


“Following the adoption of amendment one, we are deeply concerned that the spirit of the original Motion has been undermined, as the whole point of calling for a ceasefire is to open up diplomatic channels, and so in essence we regard the amendment has negated the purpose of the original Motion.

“We agree with much of amendment three; unfortunately we must take issue with it on the same basis,” said Councillor Donnelly.

The third amendment to the Motion was passed by a vote of 21 for, 10 against and two abstentions.

Following the passing of the third amendment, Councillor Browne said: “In terms of the issue of the Israeli ambassador, diplomacy is always the preferred option, but the Israeli government have shown that they are not interested in diplomacy at this time, so tougher methods are required to put pressure on them.”

“It’s important that we add our voice as a corporate body to the call for an immediate ceasefire.”

He ended his remarks by directly addressing the Palestinian people, saying: “Our thoughts are with you at this time.”

The substantive Motion was passed with a vote of 21 for, 10 against, and two abstentions.