Belfast Telegraph

Dad embarks on two-day walk to Stormont in latest protest against political stagnation

Dylan Quinn, with his family, is urging Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill to help restore power-sharing at Stormont
Dylan Quinn, with his family, is urging Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill to help restore power-sharing at Stormont
Michelle O’Neill
Arlene Foster
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

A Co Fermanagh man will today embark on a two-day walk to Stormont to demonstrate his frustration at the lack of government in Northern Ireland.

Last summer Dylan Quinn from Monea outside Enniskillen used the power of social media to unite people with a call for MLAs to return to the Assembly.

The 44-year-old's #wedeservebetter campaign sent out a clear message to politicians that the ongoing impasse was unacceptable.

Such was the appeal of his message that thousands of people came out in force across the province on August 28 to tell Stormont's absentee politicians: "We deserve better".

Dylan organised the event when Northern Ireland passed Belgium's milestone for the longest period without government.

His original plan was to bring 589 people together in Enniskillen on that date - one person for every day Northern Ireland had been without a functioning administration.

In the end, events took place in 13 other cities and towns by those also angry at the ongoing political limbo. Given the widespread public support for his campaign, the father-of-four is now going one step further.

Dylan, who lives in the constituency of DUP leader Arlene Foster, will walk to Stormont just days before Northern Ireland marks two years since the power-sharing administration collapsed.

He will leave Enniskillen at 9am today and hopes to reach Belfast by 4.30pm on Monday.

His 90-mile route will take him through 20 towns and villages including two overnight stops, one in Ballygawley and the other in Lurgan. He has also put out a call to MLAs to join him along the way.

Dylan says he was prompted by recent Belfast Telegraph coverage of more than 160 pieces of draft legislation that have piled up since the collapse of the Assembly because there are no ministers in post to make decisions.

The backlog includes strategies, business plans, planning applications and public appointments awaiting ministerial approval for over 700 days and affecting everything from health and business to policing and the environment.

Speaking ahead of his mammoth trek, Dylan said: "The DUP and Sinn Fein as the two largest parties are the only ones who can make things happen, along with the Secretary of State who I believe has shown a real weakness in making any positive change.

"Not a lot has changed since last August but I believe it is still important that we share our frustrations at the lack of political action.

"I now intend to do that again because the ongoing situation is just ludicrous."

Dylan added: "It seems to be very difficult for some of our MLAs to get to Stormont and do their job.

"Well, if they can't make it to Stormont I wanted to see if I could... not by standing for election but by walking to call them out on their lack of leadership.

"I know there are challenges in getting there but I have decided to confront my own by walking to Stormont from the constituency of our former First Minister.

"Hopefully we can kick-start 2019 with a positive step forward and say it's time to make changes to the way we do things here.

"This is not a parade, it will just be myself but I would be glad to meet, walk and chat with people along the way to hear their thoughts on the lack of political leadership here and how we can move forward. Our MLAs need to make the change happen or step aside. If they can't then we need to create change next time around at the ballot box."

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