In protest of a lack of a functioning government in Northern Ireland, Dylan Quinn completed his 90 mile walk to Stormont from Enniskillen this afternoon (Monday January 7.)
The ‘We Deserve Better’ campaign founder started off his walk from outside the Democratic Unionist Party office of former First Minister Arlene Foster in Enniskillen on Saturday morning (January 5.) Accompanied by numerous supporters at different stages along the way, Mr. Quinn walked 31 miles to Ballygawley on the first day of his walk to Stormont.
Speaking to the Impartial Reporter on Sunday morning, as he started day two of his walk in Ballygawley, a determined Mr. Quinn said: “So far it’s been very good, there have been very positive reactions along the way. Lots of ‘doots’ of horns and people walking all along the way. There’s only been a very short period of time when I’ve been on my own which has been lovely to have the support, so yeah it has been good.”
In the lead up to the walk, Mr. Quinn had nominated the 90 MLAs to each walk a mile of the journey with him. When asked if any of the politicians had joined him so far, Mr. Quinn commented: “We’ve had one MLA, Doug Beattie from the Ulster Unionist Party, who had indicated quite early on that he would join. I had at least a mile walk along with him and an interesting discussion.”
He continued: “I was asking him about what they would be doing, what the UUP would be doing for the reformation of Stormont to try and find out what’s going on there, so yes Doug has joined us and I’m expecting others to join along the way from potentially the Alliance party.”
It is understood that MLA John Blair of the Alliance Party accompanied Mr. Quinn for a section of the walk and engaged in discussions during day two of the protest walk to Stormont.
Commenting that the challenges he has faced so far have been mostly physical, Mr. Quinn said: “I kind of expected the psychological thing to be an issue but because of the support, that has been quite easy really.”
He continued: “It’s been more about the physical pain than anything else because I think the support has provided answers to ‘what’s the purpose for this?’ You can see that people are being supportive of it therefore demonstrating that there is a value in doing it.”
Following the ‘We Deserve Better’ peaceful protest on August 28, 2018, which highlighted a lack of government in Northern Ireland for 589 days, it is apt that Mr. Quinn’s walk took place during the week that marks two years since the collapse of the assembly at Stormont. Commenting on the “value” of peaceful protests, Mr. Quinn said: “This sort of peaceful civic action has a value as it continues to raise the message up and make sure that people don’t forget that this is not normal.”
In the week leading up to Mr. Quinn’s walk, a complaint was made to the Police Service of Northern Ireland that he was taking part in an illegal parade. Although Mr. Quinn did not believe that his walk amounted to a parade, as he is the only one walking the full 90 miles, he decided to submit an application to the Parades Commission on the advice of the PSNI.
Mr. Quinn completed his walk to Stormont on the afternoon of Monday January 7, accompanied by supporters, his family and friends.