Sound and logical arguments for a United Ireland must be to the fore in upcoming general election – Ó Caoláin
Speaking at a Uniting Ireland meeting in Monaghan this evening Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said Sinn Féin must put forward its sound and logical arguments for a United Ireland in the upcoming general election.
Deputy Ó Caoláin also revealed that the Minister for Health has agreed to suppress an important report on the benefits of all Ireland cooperation on the provision of health services.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said: (Full text of speech)
“Cuirim fáilte romhaibh uile anseo go Contae Mhuineachán. Fáilte ar leith roimh ionadaithe tofa Shinn Féin.
“You are all very welcome to Co. Monaghan, especially the many Sinn Féin elected representatives here present, including mayors and chairs from councils on both sides of the Border.
“It has been a long and difficult road for Sinn Féin in the 26 Counties since we in Counties Cavan and Monaghan elected the first Sinn Féin TD of the modern era in 1997. We have had our ups and downs but we have built steadily, worked hard on the ground and in the Oireachtas and we are poised now, I believe, to make further significant gains.
“I commend newly elected Teachta Dála Pearse Doherty, Donegal South West Sinn Féin and the party nationally on a massive election effort and an historic victory. The people of Donegal South West have endorsed the Sinn Féin message. This victory has given a massive boost, not only to Sinn Féin nationally, but to all those in our country who believe that there is a better, fairer way than the economic bondage now being imposed on the Irish people by the Fianna Fáil/Green Government.
“Some people might say in the context of the economic treason now being committed by the Government and in the midst of this economic crisis, that this is not the time to talk about Irish unity.
“But remember, this is not just an economic crisis. It is a democratic crisis. A Government with no mandate and no political authority is trying to bind the Irish people hand and foot for the next five years at least, and to put our children and grandchildren in hock to international money-lenders, at the cost of ripping apart the very fabric of our society.
“People are talking about the basis of democracy being taken away from us. They are saying that the sovereignty and independence for which so many of our people fought and died is being sold out shamelessly by the Fianna Fáil/Green Government. And they are right.
“Why has this happened? People are now very familiar with the reasons for the economic collapse. The greed and corruption of a golden circle of bankers, speculators, developers and politicians ruined the economy. But there is a deeper reason.
“That golden circle, and especially the politicians within it, had absolutely no vision for the future of Ireland as a nation. For most of them, Ireland stops at the Border. For most of them too, an economy exists not to serve the people but to reap profits for the few. Last year they paid lip service to the words of the Democratic Programme for the First Dáil Éireann. Let’s recalls some of those words:
‘We declare that the Nation's sovereignty extends not only to all men and women of the Nation, but to all its material possessions, the Nation's soil and all its resources, all the wealth and all the wealth-producing processes within the Nation...We reaffirm that all right to private property must be subordinated to the public right and welfare.
“We declare that we desire our country to be ruled in accordance with the principles of Liberty, Equality, and Justice for all, which alone can secure permanence of Government in the willing adhesion of the people.’
“90 years ago the British Government passed the Government of Ireland Act – which was known by republicans as the Partition Act. It passed its third reading in the House of Commons on 11 November 1920 and became law on 23 December. Five years later the first Free State Government concluded a deal with the British Government which purported to the make partition permanent, after the collapse of the Boundary Commission.
“Following the Good Friday Agreement the Government of Ireland Act was repealed and replaced with the Northern Ireland Act 1998. While partition still exists its legal and constitutional basis has changed. In the House of Commons Peter Robinson responded to the new Act:
‘It is very clear that, far from the Bill’s leaving Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom, it introduces a transitional state. The Bill moves Northern Ireland from its full and rightful place within the United Kingdom out on a limb; it is being pushed towards an all-Ireland state.’
“You would not hear the First Minister saying this now but it is undoubtedly true. What we have is a transitional state. Politics in the Six Counties has been transformed and the Six-County state can continue to exist only in the context of a partnership and power-sharing government which is inextricably linked to all-Ireland institutions.
“We as republicans, therefore, have the task of completing the transition. And to do so we have to place the issue of Irish Unity onto the political agenda, especially in the 26 Counties. How do we do that?
“I believe we can only do it in the context of the debate about what type of Ireland will emerge from the current crisis.
“Will it be a partitioned Ireland? Will it be an Ireland where economic control of one part resides in Westminster and of the greater part resides in the European Central Bank and the IMF?
“Or will it be a different Ireland, a fairer society, a more sustainable economy, a truly independent nation?
“The only Republic worth struggling for is one that embraces all of our people and all of our island, a Republic that cherishes all the children of the nation equally.
“I have a nine-year-old son. In ten years time Órán will be 19, 100 years after our country was partitioned. If he and his generation are to have the chance as adults to build a better Ireland then we owe it to them to lay the foundations of that better Ireland now. And partition is one of the greatest obstacles that can and must be removed if our country is to be rebuilt.
“Here in the Border counties we have experience over generations of the injustice of partition, not in an abstract way, but as it has effected people in their daily lives. Social and economic distortion and disruption is a daily reality. This region has been disgracefully neglected by successive Governments. But living in this region we also know the potential for all-Ireland development and the benefit of pooling our resources on this small island.
“One example is the health system and I have recently challenged both the Taoiseach Brian Cowen and the Health Minister Mary Harney over their agreeing to the suppression of a joint study on the potential for all-Ireland co-operation in the provision of health services. This would bring real benefits to people across Ireland and in every community. The short-sightedness and political wrong-headedness of the Ministers for Health in Belfast and Dublin means that this report and its recommendations are gathering dust on a shelf.
“And what is true of health is also true of education, agriculture, manufacturing industry, infrastructural development – the potential is huge but still largely untapped.
“This all-Ireland vision, this commitment to a United Republic of Equals is what distinguishes Sinn Féin from other political parties. But we have no monopoly on the issue of Irish Unity. It is a key issue for all the Irish people and should be a priority for all in Irish politics.
“We are entering a period of political flux and political change. Fianna Fáil is likely to suffer the worst general election defeat in its history. There is a national debate on the meaning of national freedom and sovereignty.
“All this offers huge opportunities for Sinn Féin and for all who advocate Irish unity and independence. We need to keep before us and before the public in the forthcoming General election our vision of a better Ireland as well as our sound, logical arguments that Irish unity is essential to ensure true national freedom and the sovereignty of the people.
“Is é sin ár gcuspóir. Tá alán obair le déanamh ach is féidir linn dul chun cinn mór a dhéanamh. Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.” ENDS