THE first ever March for Irish Unity event will take place in Strabane and Lifford later this month and is expected to attract thousands of like-minded republicans.
Billed as a peaceful, anti-sectarian, grass roots gathering with a view to mobilising collective voices for a new and united Ireland, the march will take place on Sunday November 24 and has the backing of a range of republican groupings including Sinn Féin and the IRSP.
Understood to be the product of a year-long engagement between parties, the event will also feature well-known musician, Frances Black as well as Irish language campaigners.
West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Órfhlaith Begley explained, “Partition has failed our people and prevented our entire island from reaching its true social, economic potential.
“Sinn Féin will be supporting the March for Irish Unity.”
Organisers say that through a collective people power, they can build a new, united Irish Republic, one that “cherishes all of its children equally.”
Spokesperson for the IRSP Michael McLaughlin started, “The IRSP fully supports March for Irish Unity Lifford to Strabane. It is the product of a year long engagement within the broad Irish unity community which consisted of conversations and debates both publicly and privately.
“The purpose of these conversations is the realisation that there exists real fears within our communities about what the future holds. The IRSP will continue to engage with the broad Irish unity community to ensure that in any new and united Ireland basic working class demands are met. People are worried about healthcare, education, jobs, housing and infrastructure.
“The IRSP believe that only a socialist republic can address these working class concerns. It’s important that socialists do not marginalise ourselves within an echo chamber during this debate, our class needs mainstream representation.”
Local independent councillor, Paul Gallagher agreed.
He remarked that the local area is a good place to host an event such as this. Strabane and Lifford were chosen ahead of cities, Belfast and Derry and it is anticipated that further marches for Irish unity will take place in the coming months across Ireland.
“This in not about a border poll or the Good Friday Agreement it’s bigger than that,” Cllr Gallagher said.
“This is not about one party or one political position, it’s about engaging the Irish people around Irish unity. It will be a non-party political, family friendly event, which will allow people to express their desire for Irish unity.
“This is the first time anything like this will have taken place, and Strabane is as good a place as any for it.
“Strabane, along with the whole north west of Ireland, Donegal, Sligo etc are the regions most affected by partition. Hopefully this is the first of many of these marches.”
• March for Irish Unity will take place on November 24 beginning at 1pm at the Diamond in Lifford before marching into Abercorn Square in Strabane.