Northern Ireland news

Civic nationalism Belfast event planned for later this month

Colum Eastwood will be among the speakers at the January 26 civic nationalism event in Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE GROUP behind an open letter to the taoiseach signed by more than one thousand figures from civic nationalism will hold a rally in Belfast later this month.

The 'Beyond Brexit – the Future of Ireland' event will take place at the Waterfront Hall on Saturday January 26.

Leaders of nationalism from across Ireland, including SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, will address the rally, which will also feature panel discussions and question and answer session.

The event will focus on the consequences of Brexit for Irish citizens in the north.

Last November, acclaimed actors, leading businesspeople and top sportsmen were among the one thousand-plus signatories of an open letter to Leo Varadkar calling on the taoiseach to ensure the rights of northern nationalists were protected post-Brexit.

It followed a similar initiative in December 2017, when 200 people, including many influential figures, signed a letter to Mr Varadkar in which they voiced frustration at the deepening political crises affecting the north.

Signatories to November's letter, which welcomed the Fine Gael leader's previous commitment to represent the interests of northern nationalists, included actors Adrian Dunbar and Ciaran McMenamin, international footballer James McClean and film director Jim Sheridan.

The letter noted how all citizens north of the border are denied rights which are "taken for granted by citizens in other parts of these islands" and raised concerns about Brexit's impact on cross-border healthcare and education, as well a lack of representation for Northern Ireland in the European Parliament.

The taoiseach responded to the letter by insisting the interests of Irish citizens north of the border are a "priority" in the Brexit negotiations.

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