Paul Maskey MP/MLA speech - Ard Fheis 2012
The first meeting of Dáil Éireann occurred on 21 January 1919 in the Round Room of theMansion House. This was after the election for Westminster in 1918 when all of Ireland was under the control of the British rule.
In that election Sinn Féin won 73 out of the 105 seats and once elected the Sinn Féin MPs chose to follow through with their manifesto commitment of abstention from the British Parliament and set up Dail Éireann.
Today Sinn Féin unlike most other parties continues to adhere to their election pledges and due to this the Sinn Féin popularity continues to grow.
The people in the North have returned 5 Sinn Féin MPs to represent them knowing fine well that we are an abstentionist party, but they have the confidence in us to deliver for them.
As an Irish republican I am proud to represent the people of west Belfast as their MP but I won’t be taking my seat there, I maybe absent from taking my seat in Westminster but I’m not absent from west Belfast.
The people who elected the Sinn Féin MP’s would much rather have them travel to Leinster House and have their views and concerns raised in the Dáil than rather travel to Westminster, and that’s why Sinn Féin is calling on the Government here to allowNorthern MPs representation in the Dáil.
So we are calling for the existing 18 Westminster MPs which may reduce to 16 to automatically be accorded membership of the Oireachtas.
I had the privilege to attend the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement Committee in Leinster House a few weeks ago and in attendance there was TD’s, MP’s, Senators along with Senator George Mitchell who paid us a visit and spoke about his role in the Peace Process here.
But the people who elect us want much more than this, they want full representation in the Dail for their MPs.
What we need is real political reform and we have called for representation for 6 county citizens in the Dail.
So from this Ard Fheis I am calling on the Irish Government to implement this.
Representation at the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement Committee is not and should not be a substitute for that.
What is the Irish Government afraid off?
Well let me tell them, they have nothing to be afraid off and that they owe it to all the citizens on this island to be represented at the Dail.
Would they expect someone elected by the people for Cork, Dublin, Donegal or any other of the 26 counties to travel to Westminster and swear an oath to a British Queen?
I suspect not, so why do they expect individuals elected by the people from West Belfast, Fermanagh Sth Tyrone, Mid Ulster, Newry and Armagh, West Tyrone or any other part of the 6 counties to do so.
Let’s send a clear message from Kilarney today comrades to Enda and co, that we are demanding representation in the Dail for the 18 MPs and we won’t be letting up until it is granted.
Most of us will be cheering on the Irish Football team at the European Championships next month.
The success of this team has been down to players from all over the island choosing to play for the Republic. Some have refused to play for the Northern team for one reason or another but they have been welcomed in to our national team and rightly so. And if Ireland do well Enda and Eamon will be there to welcome the team home and to congratulate them on their success (Northerners and all).So Enda and Eamon I refuse to play at Westminster and want to play in the Dail so come on, do the right thing and give our constituents and the people of Ireland the right to send their elected representatives to Leinster House and represent their views in a parliament that hopefully will act on their needs more so than the British parliament that has contributed to their hardship for generations.