Strabane protest rally delivers ‘we deserve better’ message to politicians

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Strabane protest rally delivers ‘we deserve better’ message to politicians thumbnail

'WE deserve better!' - That was the unambiguous message to politicians from the local community at a protest event in the town last week.
Organised by local lady, Riofach Cannon, and held at 'the Tinnies' last Tuesday evening, upwards of 80 people attended the event to call on politicians to re-establish the Stormont institutions immediately.
It was part of a wider series of rallies held across Northern Ireland and was purposefully held on the date of August 28 to mark the day Northern Ireland passed the milestone of the longest period of time any country has spent without a working government - 589 days.
However, this will not be officially recognised as the Guinness World Records says it is "not eligible" for the record as it is still able to have laws passed at Westminster.
The 'We Deserve Better' campaign is the brainchild of Fermanagh man, Dylan Quinn, who recently vented his frustration over a lack of a government in Northern Ireland.
His video went viral on social media and culminated in the setting up of the grassroots movement which has seen people from all backgrounds come together to hold demonstrations in towns and cities to press for the need for a functioning government.
Last Tuesday's protests are part of a wider series of future planned initiatives as the Executive remains in limbo.
Speaking at the event, Miss Cannon told the crowd: "Over the past 18 months across the North there have been thousands of conversations around the frustration of the Stormont stalemate. Today our voices have joined together to tell our elected officials loudly and clearly that we deserve better.
"You may have seen Dylan Quinn's video a month ago that started all this. It spread quick and fast as most right-minded people agree that we need a functioning government and for all the parties to return to talks immediately.
"We want a return to Stormont but not to business as usual but to rational and mature and politics which lay the foundation for a positive, progressive and prosperous future for us all."
She suggested that MLAs wages should be "significantly reduced if they are unwilling or fail to return."
"This is the only place that you would get away with not turning up to work and getting paid, not to mention a pay rise in between. It is estimated that £9million of our taxpayers money has gone into the pockets of our MLAs - the ones who we voted for. This is not including their expenses," she said.
Outlining areas affected, she said the lack of a functioning government is preventing progress and that it is local people and services which are suffering due to the ongoing deadlock on the hill.
"The reality is that nothing can be done with a non-functioning government. We will be releasing a petition online and we hope everyone will sign it," she said.
The event also attracted participants from Omagh including nurse, Paula Devine, who also addressed the gathering.
She said: "I'm here as a nurse, as a mother, as a daughter, as a sister, as a wife and I'm all too aware of the challenges that face the health service, our jobs, our education and our future due to the stalemate at Stormont.
"I want things to move forward for the sake of everyone and most importantly for the future of our children.
"These events tonight are the first step in trying to hold our MLAs to account demonstrating that the power lies with us and the responsibility lies with them. We do not intend for it to end here tonight. Please sign the online petition which will start soon."
A number of local political representatives were present at the protest including independent councillor, Patsy Kelly and West Tyrone SDLP MLA., Daniel McCrossan.
Speaking afterwards, Mr McCrossan said he gave his full support to the demonstration.
"People are angry, frustrated and feel let down. As an MLA and someone you elected, I feel embrassed, frustrated and ashamed by this mess. I was elected to better the lives of our people.
"That's what I want to do. That's what I'm being prevented from doing. Two parties have selfishly abandoned the people. Health, education, housing, roads - all neglected. Voiceless on Brexit. No one voted for this."




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