Belfast Telegraph

'We deserve better' campaigners pull out of Belfast rally after request to reconsider speakers

By Mark Edwards

A campaign group has pulled out of co-hosting a 'we deserve better' event in Belfast after it was asked to reconsider inviting LGBT and pro-choice speakers.

The campaign, started by Dylan Quinn from Enniskillen, is using the power of social media to unite people in urging MLAs to restore power sharing at Stormont.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning Executive since January 2017.  Next Tuesday Northern Ireland will pass the milestone of the longest period of any country has spent without a working government- 589 days.

A series of events is planned across Northern Ireland on Tuesday to mark the passing of the record.

However, campaign group Progressive Politics NI has now pulled out of co-hosting an event in Belfast to be held at City Hall.

A Progressive Politics NI spokesperson said: "We had organised three speakers so far, two of them announced; John O'Doherty from The Rainbow Project/Love Equality and Elaine Crory from Belfast Feminist Network/Alliance For Choice.

"Unfortunately when we announced these speakers it became clear that some were upset as they felt this wasn't what the #WeDeserveBetter campaign was about. They felt these are 'agendas' and that this campaign wasn't about them.

"Organisers asked us to rethink these speakers as they wanted their message to be solely about getting the parties back to talk. It is therefore with deep regret that we have decided to pull out of said event."

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Dylan Quinn is started the #WeDeserveBetter campaign in Enniskillen

The spokesperson added: "We understand wanting to attract as many people as possible and from all corners of Northern Ireland, but we feel the issues of LGBT rights and bodily autonomy are extremely important issues that need addressed and not 'agendas'."

The spokesperson said that money donated for the Belfast event via GoFundMe will be refunded within three to seven working days.

The spokesperson added: "We would like to publicly apologise to John and Elaine. We stand with them, and the organisations they represent, in full solidarity in working to achieve equality for these and other issues."

Dylan Quinn, speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, said each of the 'we deserve better' events are completely independent from each other and that he did not object to the speakers chosen, but that he was concerned the event was being diverted away from the specific aim of putting pressure on political parties to return to Stormont.

He said: "It became apparent that some of the speakers, the things that they were talking about, were resulting in people not focusing on the main aim of the  'we deserve better' but were instead focusing on specific issues, which are important and vital issues, I don't underestimate that. But the whole idea of this is that we don't have a government to deal with any of this."

He added: "Now what we have is people arguing with each other and I am sure some of the political parties are loving it, because we are not focusing on them. It was not that we didn't want certain people to speak. We had a conversation to figure out how we direct the event in Belfast to ensure it really reflects the ultimate aim of 'we deserve Better'."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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