By Anthony Neeson
A former Sinn Féin Assembly member has hit out at the denial of rights by the DUP and British government.
Mitchel McLaughlin was speaking at a march to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland when protestors marched from Coalisland to Dungannon in County Tyrone.
Following the original route on Saturday, McLaughlin gave the keynote address during the reenactment, saying that Ireland is on the verge of a seismic shift towards a “new, agreed and united Ireland.”
“Fifty years ago, likeminded people from all communities, outraged by the routine injustice and sectarianism of the six county state, came together to form the civil rights movement.
“Inspired by the bravery and determination of the black civil rights movement in the USA, they took to the streets and marched for rights and against inequality.
“The Orange state is now gone and we now have a peaceful and democratic way forward. This is a very different place than it was in 1968 and I am convinced that we are now on the verge of another seismic shift towards a new, agreed and united Ireland that will provide a prosperous and shared future for all our citizens.”
However, McLaughlin added his “deep concern” that there are “still people who want to deny rights and equality to their fellow citizens today.”
“People in the North still face attacks on their electoral and civil rights, alongside the continued denial of rights to LGBTQ couples, women, Irish language speakers, and bereaved families seeking a coroner’s inquest.
“Today, we are experiencing an unacceptable blockade on rights, imposed by the DUP and facilitated by the British government.
“Rights are also under threat by a right-wing Tory Brexit and there are unwelcome echoes of gerrymandering and the hollowing out of democracy by the recent Boundary Commission proposals.
The denial of rights, equality and respect is as wrong today as it was fifty years ago.”