Northern Ireland news

Tarlach Mac Niallais: Belfast-born gay rights campaigner to have New York street named after him

The late Tarlach Mac Niallais (Terry Nellis) will have a street named after him in New York

A GAY rights campaigner from north Belfast who became a prominent activist in New York is to have a street named after him in his adopted city.

Tarlach Mac Niallais, born Terry Nellis, was originally from the Newington area but moved to America in the 1980s.

He died in New York from Covid in April of last year.

A street in the borough of Queens in New York will be formally re-named 'Tarlach Mac Niallais Way' on Friday December 3 in honour of his campaigning work.

Tarlach's brother Brendan Nellis told The Irish News his family were hugely proud of the honour.

"The family are very honoured," he said.

"He was part of what was known as the Lavender and Green Alliance (which celebrates Irish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture and identity) which formed in 1990.

"Since then they had agitated for legal participation in the New York St Patrick's Day parade. That came into being in March 2016 after more than 25 years of struggle.

"That was a fantastic event. Me and my wife Patricia went over to join it. It was a really, really emotional time because whereas before they (LGBT people who took part in the parade) were stopped, ridiculed and chastised, this time there were huge crowds who cheered them on to Fifth Avenue."

He added: "Since then they have now been officially allowed to walk in the St Patrick's Day parade.

"Terry was one of the stewards for the Lavender and Green Alliance.

"He was a strong man with a big voice. He was asked the following year to be a full marshal for the big parade."

Mr Mac Niallais (57) worked as a social work manager for a project for people with learning difficulties, alongside his community activism.

Mr Nellis said his brother was a "leader" who greatly deserved the honour.

"He died on April 1 2020," he said.

"The street re-naming is happening less than two years later. We feel very honoured."

Tarlach's husband Juan Nepomuceno, sister Marie Burns, brother-in-law Seanie Burns, and Tarlach's nephew Gary Nellis and his wife Natalie will attend the ceremonial unveiling of the new street name next month.

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