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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 25 October, 2014

Plaque to former Irish president of Israel taken down in Belfast

The removal of the memorial plaque follows attacks on the property.

A MEMORIAL PLAQUE marking the birthplace of former Israeli President Chaim Herzog has been taken down after a spate of attacks on the house.

The incident took place on Cliftonpark Avenue in north Belfast where the plaque was hanging outside the house. The building that was being attacked was a housing executive property. It housed the premises of the Cliftonville Community Regeneration Forum.

The attacks against the centre have been ongoing over the past numbers of years. They have escalated substantially over the past month resulting in the removal of the plaque.

Attacks against the premises have involved graffiti being sprayed on the property, stones being thrown and a group attempting to forcibly remove the plaque using a crowbar.

The plaque had been erected at the premises in 1998 by the Ulster History Circle, who have placed up a number of similar plaques across Northern Ireland commemorating notable individuals.

Sinn Féin councillor JJ McGee, coincidentally a former resident in the house, said about the attack:

I think that it is disappointing that it has come to that. While I support all protests around Gaza, what is happening there is not helping the people of Palestine.

“The plaque wouldn’t have gone up until after I left. It was a pretty grand house. It would been sort of six bedrooms. It would have had the bells for the staff . There would have been wee wooden boxes with bedroom numbers on it. It had a sort of quirkiness to it.”

The area around the Cliftonpark Avenue area is considered to be a mixed area. Speaking to TheJournal.ie about the incident, DUP councillor Brian Kingston said:

“There has been a level of aligning with Nationalists going to the Palestinian cause and Unionists showing more support for the Israeli side.”

Even so, this would have been a community group in a fairly Nationalist area which goes to show that these attacks are quite mindless.

There has also been controversy over a proposed visit by Scottish MP for Bradford West George Galloway. The visit would include a speaking event at the Ulster Hall on August 23. The building has been rented out by Belfast City Council for the event.

On this Kingston said: “George Galloway is coming to speak at the Ulster Hall. It is a commercial booking, in light of his recent comments in Leeds where he said that ‘we have declared Bradford an Israel free zone, any Israeli academics, any Israeli tourists’, I don’t want him coming to Belfast and speaking in a council facility.”

Chaim Herzog was born in Belfast and spent his early life in Ireland. His father served as Cheif Rabbi for Ireland from 1919 to 1936. Herzog was born in 1918 and was educated in Dublin before immigrating to Palestine in 1935. He served as President of Israel between 1983 and 1993.

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