Irish woman will not stand by as we are objectified, disrespected, or abused – McDonald
Speaking today at the annual Sinn Féin Easter Commemoration at Glasnevin Cemetery, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD highlighted the need to continue to build a new and united Ireland; a new and united Ireland in which women have equal rights, respect and protection.
Teachta Lou McDonald said:
“A century ago, in 1918, the overwhelming majority of the Irish people voted against British rule, and they voted for Irish Republicans.
“Those elected refused to go to Westminster and established the first Dáil.
“It was also the first year of women’s suffrage and it saw the election of the first female MP - the most unmanageable of revolutionaries - Constance Markievicz.
“This was a changing Ireland led by a revolutionary generation.
“A generation of Gaels, of socialists, feminists, and nationalists that found common cause in building an Irish republic.
“I stand here today, as leader of Sinn Féin, proud in the tradition of the most unmanageable, the most passionate, the most noble of revolutionaries.
“Irish women have felt the full brunt of the reactionaries in a partitioned Ireland.
“We were relegated to second class citizenship.
“In this cemetery, the remains of Magdalen women lie – a powerful and constant reminder of our recent past. A moral reminder of the journey we must travel for our sisters and our daughters, for our mothers and our sons. For ourselves.
“We are equal, and we will be respected.
“We have come a long way, but we still have work to do. Irish women will not be stand by as we are objectified, disrespected, or abused.
“Our voices will not be silent; our stories will not be left untold.
“We are united in this.
“We believe each other.
“We will stand together.
“We trust women.
“That is why we will campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment.
“That is why we will campaign to ensure the criminal justice system, our courts, North and South become places of safety for women.
“Where our rights are protected, our reputations respected, and all parts of the justice system operate beyond reproach.”
Note: Please see below Mary Lou McDonald’s speech.
Easter Commemoration Speech
Mary Lou McDonald TD
Check Against Delivery
Today we proudly remember Irish patriots. We reflect on the heroism of generations that sought to establish an Irish Republic
We recall that the Revolutionaries’ of 1916 fought for an equal society, for democracy and sovereignty, justice and freedom. They fought for an economy run in the interests of all our citizens.
They sought to undo centuries of British oppression by force of arms so future generations of Irish people could live in peace.
They believed that the wealth of Ireland belongs to the people of Ireland and that our natural resources should be exploited in the interests of Irish citizens’ not foreign governments.
They wanted to see the reconquest of Ireland by the people of Ireland — the creation of a real republic in which citizens had real and inalienable rights.
It was that same belief that motivated generations of Irish Republicans.
In the General Election, they turned their back on London and gave their political support to abstentionist Sinn Féin candidates.
Those elected refused to go to Westminster and established the first Dáil.
It was also the first year of women’s suffrage and it saw the election of the first female MP - the most unmanageable of revolutionaries - Constance Markievicz
This was a changing Ireland led by a revolutionary generation.
A generation of Gaels, of socialists, feminists and nationalists that found common cause in building an Irish republic.
I stand here today as leader of Sinn Féin, proud in the tradition of the most unmanageable, the most passionate, the most noble of revolutionaries.
Irish women have felt the full brunt of the reactionaries in a partitioned Ireland.
We were relegated to second class citizenship.
In this cemetery the remains of Magdalen women lie – a powerful and constant reminder of our recent past. A moral reminder of the journey we must travel for our sisters and our daughters, for our mothers and our sons. For ourselves.
We are equal, and we will be respected.
We have come a long way, but we still have work to do. Irish women will not be stand by as we are objectified, disrespected, or abused.
Our voices will not be silent, our stories will not be left untold.
We are united in this.
We believe each other.
We will stand together,
We trust women.
That is why we will campaign to repeal the 8th amendment.
That is why we will campaign to ensure the criminal justice system, our courts, North and South are places of safety for women.
Where our rights are protected, our reputations respected, and all parts of the justice system is beyond reproach.
Sadly, the Ireland of today is not the Ireland envisaged by the rebels of 1916 or 1918.
Our Island is partitioned, and our people divided.
The parties that claim Pearse and Collins, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, are now the parties of Micheal Martin and Leo Varadkar.
Two leaders that abandoned a vision of an Irish Republic and settled for a twenty six county free state.
The partnership of Martin and Varadkar has left ten thousand citizens, including nearly four thousand children homeless.
Has seven hundred and eighty thousand people living below the poverty line.
Their pact has increased waiting lists and trolley numbers.
And left working families fearing the knock on the door from the landlord, the car breaking down or a child taking sick.
Meanwhile Micheal Martin throws shapes and Leo spins, while we all pay the cost of their pact.
As ordinary people are denied their rights in this state, the same is true of the North. This is the outworking of partition.
Irish Language rights, Marriage Equality, and the right to an inquest for deaths during the conflict, are being withheld by the DUP and the Tories.
Sinn Féin negotiated in good faith for 14 months. We reached an accommodation with the DUP but their leadership failed to get it over the line.
This is all about rights and Sinn Féin is not for turning. These are basic citizens’ rights.
There have been big changes in society. Gaelgoiri are not going away.
Our LGBT citizens are not going away.
Families who lost loved ones in the conflict are not going away.
That is the reality with which the DUP and governments must get to grips. These rights can no longer be delayed and denied. They must be delivered’
And when they do I believe the institutions will re-established
In recent days we have seen again the horror of Israeli state violence against the people of Palestine.
The military might of the Israeli state unleashed on the people of Gaza.
This is a depressingly familiar vista.
The international community looks on as the rule of law is openly flouted. The European Union looks on. The Irish government looks on. This is not good enough. We need action.
Leo Varadkar and his government must now show leadership and decisiveness.
Israel must be challenged. Their Ambassador must be informed that Ireland deplores their aggression; that Ireland stands for peace in Palestine and for a Palestinian state.
So the Taoiseach should send the Israeli Ambassador home and move immediately to recognise the state of Palestine.
International solidary is crucial to struggles the world over.
Throughout our history we have sought the support of the international community and our diaspora. We value that support.
Over 100 years ago, speaking at the grave side of O'Donovan Rossa, Patrick Pearse said,
“They have left us our fenian dead and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace"
Times have changed, but these graves remain. And we stand here proud and resolute in the memory of the patriot dead.
The conflict is over, but Ireland is still not at peace with itself. The absence of war is not peace.
Our people and our island remain divided.
The orange state is gone, the perpetual unionist majority has gone.
The unionist veto is gone.
The destiny of Ireland is in the hands of all the people. And we are all better for it.
It is now time to build an Ireland at peace.
It is now time to look to the future, a future where Ireland, and all who share this island are living in peace. Living as equal citizens in and unified Ireland.
There are those who want to frustrate progress, to hold back time. They cannot and will not succeed.
Many unionists will privately have acknowledged change. That acknowledgement must now find public expression.
Let determine our futures together.
Let us celebrate the diversity of all who share this island.
Let us think, the unthinkable
I believe that we can find common ground and build a new, agreed and united Ireland.
An Ireland where you can comfortably be Irish or British or neither or both.
An Ireland of prosperity and opportunity.
An Ireland of equal rights in which everyone has a place.
An Ireland that provides jobs, homes and health care for its citizens.
An Ireland where everyone has a place in society and a chance to succeed.
An Ireland where it is about what you are, and not about who you know.
An Ireland where the politics of the past, the nod and wink politics of the past remains in the past.
Unionist citizens, communities and their identity must be a central component in the building of a new and united Ireland. Unionists must have the same sense of ownership as irish nationalists and republicans.
The New Ireland we seek to build must be their new Ireland too.
Let us honour the memory of Pearse and Rossa. Let us build a new and united Ireland.
An Ireland for all our citizens and an Ireland truly at peace.
The 1916 Rising was a point of major change for Ireland.
Politics in Ireland is again in great flux and change.
Revolutionaries must be pragmatic, and we must be purveyors of the big ideas.
The reconquest of Ireland by the people of Ireland cannot simply be about territory.
Ireland is changing
We can either be bystanders to change or we can shape it.
This generation must seize the opportunities, to be open to new thinking, to act decisively and to lead by our actions.
The Challenges are great but so are we.
We must mobilise people and organise for change.
The men and women of 1916 were the shapers of change.
They dreamed big for the Ireland of their time.
We must dream big for the Ireland of our time.
We must realise the dream.
This is our ambition, our mission, our responsibility.
This is our time.