Tyrone rallies for the Peoples President
Published: 4 October, 2011
County Tyrone came out in force tonight as the Peoples President tour hit the town of Omagh. Over 500 people packed into the Strule Arts Centre with another 300 unable to fit into the town centre venue.
Martin was welcomed into the venue by Tyrone GAA legends Peter Canavan, Ciaran McGarvey and Stephen O'Neill. He was joined on the platform by country music star Philomena Begley, businessman Brian Quinn, author and former Crumlin Road escapee Danny Donnelly, Dr Sean Marlowe, health campaigner Charlotte Caldwell and Caroline and Niamh McKinney who were both horrifically injured in the Omagh bomb.
The crowd was welcomed by local MP Pat Doherty and the proceedings were chaired by well known columnist and Omagh native Jude Collins.
Charlotte Caldwell outlined her campaign for proper treatment for her son Billy, and praised Martin McGuinness for being the first politician to support her family. She presented Martin with a framed picture of Billy as she wished him well on the campaign ahead.
Caroline McKinney spoke movingly of the events of august 15th 1998 when 31 people were murdered in Omagh and the horrific injuries that she and her then baby daughter Niamh suffered. Caroline thanked Martin for the efforts he has made to bring peace to Ireland and the courageous political leadership he has shown for decades.
Tyrone GAA legend Peter Canavan then took to the podium. He criticised the tone of much of the commentary from Fine Gael to date in this election campaign. He said that the people of Tyrone were as much part of Ireland as Dublin and he demanded the right for all Irish citizens to vote in Presidential elections.
Martin McGuinness was welcomed to the podium by a standing ovation from the massive crowd. He spoke at length about his commitment to reconciliation and the impact that the Omagh bomb had on him.
Afterwards Martin went into the overflow area to address the 300 or so who had waited despite being unable to enter the main hall.
Speaking afterwards Martin McGuinness spoke of his pride at being elected by the people of Tyrone since 1997 and his pride that so many had turned out tonight in the county town to play their part in the Peoples President campaign.