Northern Ireland news

Newry civic nationalism event debates rights in the face of Brexit

Solicitor Niall Murphy speaks at January's Beyond Brexit event at the Waterfront Hall. Picture by Mal McCann

THE civic nationalist movement behind an open letter to the taoiseach last year will tonight hold its second major event, following on from the success of January's 'Beyond Brexit' conference in Belfast.

Newry's Canal Court Hotel will be the venue for 'Our Rights - Our Future', billed as providing a "platform for debate about the future of the island".

Beginning at 7pm, the two-and-a-half-hour gathering organised by the Ireland's Future group will feature two panel discussions, entitled 'Rights denied, rights under threat in the here and now' and 'A rights framework in a new Ireland'.

Speakers will include human rights lawyer and group figurehead Niall Murphy, Senator Frances Black and Emma DeSouza, the Co Derry woman involved in a long-running citizenship dispute with the UK Home Office.

Among others contributing to the debate will be Slugger O'Toole's Alan Meban, Queen's University lecturer Professor Colin Harvey and High Court Judge Justice Richard Humphreys.

The event is free, but those wishing to attend need to register beforehand at

Around 1,500 people attended the group's inaugural conference in Belfast's Waterfront Hall.

The event came a matter of weeks after acclaimed actors, leading businesspeople and top sportsmen signed an open letter to Leo Varadkar calling on the taoiseach to ensure the rights of northern nationalists were protected as Brexit looms.

The letter from a broad cross-section of civic nationalism was published in a double-page advert in The Irish News.

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.

The signatories to last November's letter included actors Adrian Dunbar and Ciaran McMenamin, international footballer James McClean and film director Jim Sheridan.

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