Mary Lou McDonald TD briefs US Congressional Friends of Ireland in Washington
Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD met The Congressional Friends of Ireland Committee in Washington DC this morning.
Ms McDonald briefed the CFOI committee on efforts to restore the political institutions in the North and the collapse of the talks process, the threat posed by Brexit to Ireland, the Gerrymandering proposals regarding the redrawing of electoral boundaries in the North, and her hopes and vision for the future.
Mary Lou McDonald TD said:
"For over twenty years, the Congressional Friends of Ireland Committee has been a strong supporter of Ireland, the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.
"I told the Committee that Sinn Féin had negotiated for more than thirteen months in good faith. We had reached an accommodation with DUP leadership who subsequently walked away and collapsed the process.
"Any new talks process cannot slide back from the commits made. There cannot be any further delay or denial of the rights of citizens. This means status for the Irish Language, Equality for LGBT citizens and funding for legacy inquests.
"We discussed the controversial new electoral boundary changes. The changes would see thousands of nationalist voters left without representation. The changes also blatantly advantage the DUP. We will not accept any return to the Gerrymandering of the past.
"We had an informed exchange on the threat posed by Brexit. I made it clear that the re-imposition of a hard border on the island would be devastating for Ireland.
"I also made it clear that the only way to avoid this devastation is for the North to remain within the Customs Union and the Single Market.
"Brexit is incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement. Elements within the British Government and political unionism are seeking to undermine the Good Friday Agreement in order to ensure that Brexit happens at any costs.
"The support of the Committee and the US administration for the Good Friday Agreement is more crucial now that any other time since 1998.
"I concluded by stating that I am confident that we will see Irish Unity in our time but I stressed that it must be worked and planned for now.
"Uniting Ireland cannot be a crude exercise of simply stitching north to south and returning to business as usual.
"We want to create a new and reconciled Ireland in which ordinary people can prosper and live good lives.
"I urged the CFOI committee to keep faith with Ireland and to continue its valued and appreciated support for our country as we face these challenges."