Speaking at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Wexford tonight, MLA Jennifer McCann said:
Comrades it is an honour to open this section, ‘Towards as New Republic’ and to propose the Ard Chomhairle Motion 165 on Irish Unity.
This Ard Fheis draws delegates, members and supporters from across Ireland and internationally. Over the past day and an half we will have debated 176 different motions on a wide range of issues.
We are joined my tens of thousands on the TV, Radio and internet. Republicans are drawn from all walks of life. We are rich in our diversity, experience and views. Yet there is one ideal that binds us together, the ideal of an Irish Republic.
An Irish Republic for the whole island. An Irish Republic in which the people are sovereign. An Irish Republic based and governed by democratic principles and operating in the interests of all the people and not the chosen few.
A Republic that embraces diversity, safeguards freedoms and has equality and social justice at its core. This is the vision than binds us.
These are the principles that have driven generations of republicans. These principles and visions were forged at Vinegar Hill in 1798, posted on the steps of the GPO in 1916 and sustained the prisoners in the cells of H-Blocks and Armagh gaols in 1981.
These principles have long been discarded by successive governments in Dublin. Governments that turned their backs on the people living in the North.
Government that allowed the excesses of unionism to go unchallenged for 80 years. Governments that stood by while Irish citizens were murdered directly by British ststae forces or indirectly through collusion with unionist paramilitaries.
As I said, we in this room, we in Sinn Féin, are rich in our diversity. We are also united in our vision and united in our commitment to see real change, to deliver Irish Unity and to build a new Republic.
We will deliver the promise made by Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet, Padraig Pearse, James Connolly - the promise that Bobby Sands and Mairead Farrell gave their lives for.
The development of the Peace Process and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement provided for a peaceful and democratic path to unity.
Gone is the British Government veto. Unity is now possible by peaceful means. I would appeal to those dissent micro-groups to end their campaign and become part of a truly national movement for unity and a new republic.
Unity is now possible by peaceful and democratic means, however it is not inevitable. We should not kid ourselves about the scale of the challenges we face. We need to persuade the majority of people north and south that Irish unity is the best avenue to deliver reconciliation, prosperity and safeguard the rights and identities or all.
I believe in the strength of the republican position. It is clear that partition has failed the test of history and Irish Unity and New Republic is in the best interests of all our people.
That is why we have called for a Border poll during the next term. We want an informed and respective debate. We will put forward, with others, the benefits of unity.
Let those who believe in continued partition make their case. What is important is that the people decide. That is the democracy.So let us in the coming year strengthen and refine our campaign for a border poll.
Let us recommit ourselves to building a new republic and to delivering Irish unity.
Let us make 2014 another step towards making good the promise of 1916 for all our people."