Belfast Telegraph

Campaigning father says epic walk across N Ireland was for his children

Dylan Quinn walked 90 miles from Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh to Stormont to vent his frustration at the ongoing lack of local government.

An Enniskillen father-of-four who undertook an epic walk across Northern Ireland in protest over the lack of a functioning government said he did it for his children.

Dylan Quinn started in his Co Fermanagh home town on Saturday and walked 90 miles across the region to Stormont in east Belfast.

He finished on Monday afternoon and dedicated the feat to his children.

Mr Quinn walked his final mile up the Prince of Wales Avenue flanked by supporters who had joined him along the route.

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Campaigner Dylan Quinn (left) finishes his 90-mile walk from Enniskillen to Stormont in protest at the lack of a functioning government in Northern Ireland as this month marks two years since the powersharing collapse (Niall Carson/PA)

A number of MLAs – including Democratic Unionist Pam Cameron, and Chris Lyttle and Stewart Dickson from the Alliance Party – were among those who met him at Stormont.

This month marks two years since the powersharing executive at Stormont collapsed.

Mr Quinn criticised Northern Ireland’s politicians, claiming they are not listening to the people.

“All this is, is a father trying to look out for his children to say, you are stealing my children’s future by not engaging in proper politics about the future,” he told supporters to applause outside Parliament Buildings.

“You are trying to score points, you are not listening to people, you are not hearing fear, you are not hearing anguish and you are not changing our future.

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Campaigner Dylan Quinn (left) finishes his 90-mile walk (Niall Carson/PA)

“When I grew up here, when I was the same age as my son is now – 16 – we started to get an idea that Northern Ireland could be somewhere that we could be proud of, and talk about our future, but at the moment there is none of that because we can’t engage in those discussions.

“That needs to change.

“You can talk to me about how it’s all the other person’s fault, it’s not, if you’re in there and you have some power, it’s your responsibility to change that discussion.”

Mr Quinn was joined by MLAs at various points along his walk, including Ulster Unionists Doug Beattie and Robbie Butler, as well as Paula Bradshaw of the Alliance Party.

Mr Quinn insisted his walk was “never about me”.

“I was doing something that I could do personally, and I am delighted that people would join me,” he said.

“I am one person trying to do something, and I hope that other people would try and find ways to do something.

“Some of the political leadership at the minute in Northern Ireland are wasting the opportunities that we had in the past, and we have to start to really look at that.

“I deliberately walked from my area in Fermanagh up to here (Stormont), and it was about the journey here, it was not about here, it’s about people out there.

“As people, we need to demand better because we definitely deserve better.”

Last August, Northern Ireland surpassed a record set by Belgium for the world’s longest peacetime period without a properly functioning government.

The day was marked by a series of public protests by the #wedeservebetter campaign group calling for MLAs to return to the Assembly. The group was set up last year by Mr Quinn.

The executive imploded in January 2017 following a breakdown in relations between the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein.

A number of attempts to revive it have not been successful.

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