Northern Ireland

Family of Natalie McNally thank supporters at International Women's Day march in Belfast

Members of Natalie McNally's family attending the International Women's Day march in Belfast on Saturday.
Members of Natalie McNally's family attending the International Women's Day march in Belfast on Saturday.

THE family of murdered Lurgan woman Natalie McNally have thanked supporters in Belfast after a march for International Women's Day.

Hundreds in Belfast took part in the annual event on Saturday, delivering a message that Stormont leaders were ignoring the needs of women and girls suffering from domestic abuse, sexual harassment, homelessness, homelessness and the cost of living crisis.

Ms McNally (32) was 15 weeks pregnant when she was killed at her own home in Lurgan before Christmas.

There was applause for her family at Belfast City Hall as Sarah Mason from Women's Aid welcomed them during her speech.

"We have a very clear message from Women's Aid, we want to end violence against women and girls now," Ms Mason said.

Speaking afterwards, Ms McNally's brother Brendan thanked "all those who expressed their support and solidarity with us at this time".

Members of the family marched holding a large banner that read: "Stop Killing Women".

Ms Mason added that any reformed Stormont Executive must prioritise a strategy to tackle violence against women and girls.

“I have been doing this for 30 years and we are still saying the same thing. When they (the politicians) walk through the gates of Stormont, if they don’t have this at the top of their agenda we need to challenge them.”

Also attending were Emma McCann and Caoimhe Kinghan, two of the workers who staged a 12-week work-in to protest against the closure of the Regina Coeli women's hostel.

Disability rights activist Joanne Sansom said the people of Northern Ireland have been let down by the constant threat of, or failure to govern and deliver on the issues that matter – health, education, housing, employment and climate change.

“In the fight back to achieve what we deserve we need, a long-term government that is no longer collapsible via a one-party veto, in other words, a stable local Government that functions holistically with us, for us to meet the collective needs of our society, together," she said.

After two years of Covid restrictions, the march returned to its traditional route along Royal Avenue to a rally at Belfast City Hall, where women were encouraged to 'Stand Up and Fight Back' against rising misogyny in the streets, online, the workplace and the home.

Helen Crickard of Reclaim the Agenda, organisers of the annual march and rally, said: “The cost of living crisis has had a major impact and we are calling on people to show the government and society that women are fighting back against oppression and austerity".