A father-of-four has walked across Northern Ireland in protest of the state’s “dysfunctional” government.
A man in Northern Ireland has walked over 90 miles (145km) in protest of the lack of government in Northern Ireland, a power-sharing government which has not been properly functioning since January 2017.
For over 700 days, the government in Stormont has remained in a stalemate and father-of-four Dylan Quinn has taken it on himself to trek the 90 miles from his home in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, to government buildings in Belfast to vent his frustration at Northern Ireland’s “dysfunctional” political system.
Starting his trek last Saturday morning, Quinn hoped to encourage further political discourse and draw attention to the fact that Northern Irish people have the power to change the situation as he reached Stormont on Monday evening.
Sorry for the lack of updates. Made it & recovering my feet. So many thank yous & I hope to get to them all. Your support online & on the road has been amazing thank you. It is not just rhetoric we do deserve better, we need to make it happen! #wedeservebetter #walkEDtostormont ! pic.twitter.com/ImsqllTNAv— Dylan Quinn (@iamdylanquinn) January 7, 2019
“It is about raising the issue so that when we next go to the ballot box maybe we’ll start to choose a little bit wiser,” Quinn said.
“But also maybe the MLAs and the politicians and the political parties will start to listen and consider the fact that people actually want change here.
“The rhetoric of the past is not about the future and we need people to move forward.”
The Northern Ireland government collapsed in January 2017 over a renewable heating scandal. Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster, who had been in charge of the department that oversaw the plan in question, did not stand down while an investigation was carried out and a bitter row erupted between the DUP and Sinn Féin.
In the following two years, the rift between the two largest parties - who are on either side of the nationalist/unionist divide - have constantly come to a stalemate in talks to resume government as the issues in questions widened to include other traditional disputes such as the rights afforded the Irish language and its speakers within the state.
Coming out of Lurgan 2 young boys maybe 13 & 8 standing at the end of their drive before they headed to school “are you the walking to Stormont man? Good luck!” Even typing this I have a lump in my throat. It is there future that is been stolen #walkingtostormont #wedeservebetter— Dylan Quinn (@iamdylanquinn) January 7, 2019
This Wednesday, January 9, will officially mark two years since its collapse but last August 2018, Northern Ireland officially set a record for the world’s longest peacetime period without a properly functioning government. A record of 589 days had previously been held by Belgium.
“I don’t underestimate the challenges we have to deal with both political, social, cultural, historical but they need to be faced up to and at the moment our parties are not doing anything about that,” Quinn said, adding that he does not believe power-sharing can return as it was before. To return to the same system, he believes, would result in the same problems being faced time and time again.
“We need to have a proper debate and discussion over an extended period of time of how we operate successfully in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“Until we do that, we’re going to continue to come up against the same old problems.”
I will only get to the end of it by putting one front in front of the other and moving forward. Going backwards or staying still is not an option. We need political representation that moves forward! #Wedeservebetter #walkingtostormont pic.twitter.com/mJyoDRV55i— Dylan Quinn (@iamdylanquinn) January 6, 2019
While some Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs - Representative in the Stormont power-sharing government) have joined Quinn on his walk, a complaint about his protest was made to Northern Ireland police. The complaint stated that his walk amounted to an illegal parade as it had not been registered with the Northern Ireland Parade’s Commission. In an attempt to reduce violence and tension surrounding parades in Northern Ireland, such events must be submitted to a commission for approval.
Quinn has since submitted an application on the advice of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), although he does not believe his protest amounts to a parade.