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Council motion to honour Portrush gay rights activist Mark Ashton

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Campaigner: the late Mark Ashton, who co-founded a movement to support the Welsh miners

Campaigner: the late Mark Ashton, who co-founded a movement to support the Welsh miners

Campaigner: the late Mark Ashton, who co-founded a movement to support the Welsh miners

The SDLP group on Causeway Coast and Glens council has submitted a motion to the council calling for a memorial for a high-profile LGBTQ+ activist.

Mark Ashton moved to Portrush at a young age and went to the catering college in the town.

After completing his studies, he moved to London where he became an influential figure in the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners movement during the miners’ strike.

Mark Ashton’s campaigning was highlighted in the 2014 film ‘Pride’ starring Andrew Scott, Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton.

Described as “a firecracker of a human being”, Mark died through AIDS only a few years after the strikes in 1987 at the age of 26.

A plaque was dedicated to Mark in London, with a garden in memory of him also being built in Paris.

The motion was proposed by SDLP councillor Margaret Anne McKillop and seconded by councillor Orla Beattie.

It reads: "This council notes Portrush resident Mark Ashton’s work and commitment as an activist for the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights and workers' rights, especially coal miners during the coal miners' strike of 1984/1985, recognises the importance of commemorating all those from our council area who have fought for the rights of others, and calls for the immediate allocation of funds and identification of a suitable site, to take place in consultation with family and LGBTQ+ groups, for a suitable memorial to Mark Ashton within the council area."

The motion is expected to be up in the council in March.

Belfast Telegraph


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