Belfast Telegraph

Pro-life coalition joining civil rights march re-enactment 'to stop Sinn Fein hijack of history'

The Civil Rights Movement on the march in Co Tyrone during August 1968
The Civil Rights Movement on the march in Co Tyrone during August 1968
Catherine Sewell

By Donna Deeny

Hundreds of people from a coalition of pro-life groups are set to march at a civil rights event organised by Sinn Fein, which they have accused of hijacking history.

The march on Saturday will follow the route from Dungannon to Coalisland taken by the original Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago.

Catherine Sewell, of the Tyrone Pro-Life Network, said Sinn Fein will not be allowed to dictate what constitutes civil rights - especially the right to life.

"Fifty years after the original civil rights demonstration we now find ourselves struggling for the most basic civil right of all, namely the right to be born," she said.

"Abortion is the greatest threat to that right and we intend to be the voice of the unborn on the day of the march.

"The original Civil Rights Movement never belonged to Sinn Fein and it doesn't belong to it now. Why should a pro-abortion party be allowed to hijack history?

"The civil rights legacy belongs to all of us and this is an excellent opportunity to highlight the pro-life cause, which enjoys widespread support in Tyrone and across the north. The timing is very fortuitous at this crucial time in the abortion debate.

"We have people travelling from around Ireland to be with us and we expect a large number of local people to join in as the Coalisland/Dungannon area is a pro-life stronghold.

"We shall not be moved and we shall overcome."

Sinn Fein declined to comment on the actions planned by the pro-life groups.

However, the party's Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy said: "Civil rights as a movement was driven by ordinary people and they achieved an awful lot.

"When people joined together in peaceful protest, they were attacked on the streets - the violence came to us.

"We marched for our rights and risked everything, but the foresight shown by a brave few is remarkable. Presently, with the deliberate denial of rights, a shortage of affordable housing, and the ongoing issue around constituency boundary proposals, it is clear that there is still a job of work to be done.

"The political situation at the time of the Civil Rights Movement included gerrymandered constituencies, which led to systematic discrimination in the allocation of housing, jobs and rights - there can be no return to this."

The march will leave Dungannon at 3pm on Saturday.

Belfast Telegraph


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