Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein stage 50th anniversary Civil Rights march from Dungannon to Coalisland

An SDLP MLA has hit out at Sinn Fein over a commemoration event to mark 50 years since the first Civil Rights march was held in Northern Ireland.

Saturday's march organised by Sinn Fein traced the original route from Dungannon to Coalisland, taken by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in 1968.

Writing on Twitter, SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said: "Don’t dare attempt to discredit the Civil Rights Movement with SF’s vile rewriting of history.

"Do you think people are so foolish?

"SF know nothing about Civil Rights, never have! Ask Jean McConvilles family?"

In a follow-up tweet, Mr McCrossan said Sinn Fein's actions at the time were "the complete opposite" of the civil rights movement.

Reacting to the comments, a Sinn Fein spokesperson said: "Daniel McCrossan would have been welcome to attend today’s march to stand up for rights and equality for all citizens.

“Unfortunately, he would rather spend his time constantly attacking Sinn Fein and trying to score cheap political points, as usual."

Those gathered at the event heard from former Sinn Fein chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin and MP Francie Molloy.

Addressing the crowd, Mr McLaughlin said the civil rights movement was "never a republican conspiracy" but was an "an instinctive and largely spontaneous response to decades of unionist misrule, abuse and sectarianism".

He added there were ongoing rights issues still being contested in Northern Ireland, many of which are tied to the ongoing Brexit process.

Earlier this year Sinn Fein's national chairperson Declan Kearney was criticised after saying the civil rights movements was influenced by IRA and Sinn Fein leadership at the time.

Civil rights campaigner and former MP Bernadette McAliskey, known as Bernadette Devlin at the time, said his comments had no basis in fact.

Former People Before Profile MLA and civil rights campaigner Eamonn McCann said Sinn Fein were attempting to "colonise history".

Saturday's march was also attended by a large contingent of pro-life activists, who were protesting Sinn Fein's stance on abortion.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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