FOLLOWING a demonstration yesterday (February 22) at which police were called to remove protesters from inside County Hall (Lys Kernow) in Truro, Cornwall Council’s leader Cllr Linda Taylor has said it is not for the local authority to get involved in calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Campaigners from Palestine Solidarity Cornwall (PSC) staged a “die-in” as councillors arrived for the monthly meeting of the full council. The protesters demanded the authority backed calls for a ceasefire in Gaza after the deaths of more than 29,000 Palestinians, many of whom have been children.

The group planned to ask the council to withdraw pension investments it says “support Israel’s genocide against Palestinian people in Gaza”.

The campaigners entered the council building and two protesters disrupted the meeting, unfurling flags and chanting “ceasefire now” in the chamber. They were persuaded to leave by staff.

While that was happening, other members of the group lay down in reception for around 40 minutes. Their chants could be heard during a one-minute silence held in the chamber in honour of late Cornwall councillor Edwina Hannaford.

Devon and Cornwall Police later said that the protesters “dispersed” and no offences were committed.

Following the incident, Cllr Linda Taylor said: “I understand the concern over the situation in the Middle East and I hope that a resolution and a workable ceasefire can be put in place as quickly as possible – but it is not for Cornwall Council to get involved.

“This authority leads the way on responsible investment with its pension fund, and do all we can to put in place strong, industry-leading investment policies. All of our fund managers are required to invest in line with the United Nations Global Compact.

“We insist that companies comply with all legal requirements and respect all internationally recognised human rights, including the obligations of the Modern Slavery Act in the UK and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business Human Rights.”

Beth Conroy, from Falmouth, was one of those depicting a mourning mother during the protest. She said: “I have been a physiotherapist for over 30 years, so I know the devastating effects of trauma. I am also a mother and can imagine no greater pain than the killing of your child. So some of us in the Palestine support group have dressed as mourning mothers, carrying our babies in body bags.

“The trauma of the Palestinian people is that of being trapped in a living hell from which they cannot escape. They are being bombed, shot and starved out of existence. We stand in support of them outside County Hall whilst our MPs debate the issues inside. We ask them to call for an immediate ceasefire.” It was councillors rather than MPs debating issues in the chamber, such as the budget for 2024/25 and an increase in tolls for people crossing the Tamar.