Public protests to be staged this weekend over Stormont deadlock

Aideen Hughes with Michael Deery at the Derry Girls poster ahead of the protests this weekend.
Aideen Hughes with Michael Deery at the Derry Girls poster ahead of the protests this weekend.

Local people have been urged to join protests in Derry this weekend to vent their frustration over the absence of MLAs at Stormont.

The event, which takes place in the city centre this Sunday, February 24, will form part of a wider day of protest across Northern Ireland organised by the #WeDeserveBetter movement, urging MLAs to return to work.

Protests will be held at various tourist attractions across the North and the rallying points locally will be at Orchard Street in front of the ‘Derry Girls’ mural at 2pm and at 2.30pm on the Peace Bridge.

There will be no speeches at the events and photographs at the popular locations will be used instead to broadcast the frustration over the impact of the deadlock at Stormont.

Organisers said they have plenty of placards to distribute or people can make and bring their own signs, highlighting issues they feel strongly about, as long as it is on topic and not divisive. The cross-community event is family-friendly and is open to all.

One of those involved in organising the Derry protests, local teacher Aideen Hughes, said: “This is an easy way for people to get your voice heard. It has now been over two years and it has been going on and on and on, and it can’t just be accepted.

“There is an ongoing impact on money not being invested here; money is not coming through, we see it in education and other areas. There are all different areas where things are not being passed - the suicide prevention strategy has not gone through - because there is just nobody there to make decisions and it we shouldn’t just accept it. We need to bring people together to give them a focal point.”

Aideen Hughes said that the ‘We Deserve Better’ movement involves people from all different backgrounds and political persuasions. “We don’t care who you vote for, this is about telling the MLAs to get back to work. The lack of government impacts absolutely everywhere. All this is doing is passing on division to the next generation and young people do not care about such divisions; this situation has been created by adults.”

Aideen said that reports that food was being dumped at Stormont because there was no-one there to eat it and no-one to sign off on donating it to charity, while there are people queueing up at foodbanks illustrating how unfair the lack of representation was. “And with Brexit on the horizon we are getting totally drowned out,” she added. “There is nobody there to represent us and they cannot use this as a ‘get out’ clause to wash their hands of what happens afterwards.”