A FERMANAGH and Omagh District Councillor travelled to New York City this Easter after being invited to take part in this year’s Friends of Irish Freedom 1916 commemorations.

Independent Councillor, Bernice Swift, was the keynote speaker at the event in Gaelic Park in the Bronx, which started with a Mass celebrated by Fr. Patrick Moloney.

Family members descended from one of the leaders of the Easter Rising, Sean MacDiarmada, who are living in New York, were special guests on the day.

Republican memorabilia dating back to 1916 was also on display.

During her speech, the Fermanagh woman said that the big issues in the coming months and years would be Brexit, the failure to deal with legacy issues and a “failed and failing” political situation at Stormont, where day-to-day public services like health and education were being shamefully neglected.

She claimed that an impending border after Brexit would cause a “detrimental political and economical tsunami” in Ireland that would be felt for generations and would be worst in border counties like Fermanagh.

Stating that no political party in Ireland had any solution and how the Irish people, north and south, were being “held to ransom” by the Conservative Party in Westminster, Ms. Swift urged Irish America to once again become active and to let their voices be heard in calling for a referendum for a United Ireland.

The Councillor encouraged those present to write to their local representative, their senator, congressman and President and also to An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and let their voice be heard to call for a referendum involving all the Irish people as well as the Irish diaspora across the world.

The Friends of Irish Freedom were formed in 1916, a few weeks prior to the Easter Rising, by some of those directly involved in organising and planning the Rising. Their aim was to gain support for Irish freedom in the United States and at one time they had 275,000 members.