Brexiteer bullies will not bully Ireland - Mary Lou McDonald delivers main address at Bodenstown Wolfetone Commemoration
Speaking at Sinn Féin’s annual Wolfetone commemoration in Bodenstown, County Kildare today Mary Lou McDonald has said British Tory Brexiteer bullies will not bully Ireland.
Ms McDonald was responding to comments today from Tory Brexiteer Ministers.
“The Irish government must persist in seeking substantive answers from Theresa May.
“Without workable proposals from the British government on how they will avoid a hard border, uphold the Good Friday Agreement and protect citizens’ rights, then it would be reckless and negligent to allow negotiations progress to the next stage.
“Today’s Tory sabre-rattling simply emphasises this point. The Brexiteer bullies will not bully Ireland.
“Their threats of the, undoubted, economic fallout for Ireland from Brexit are loudly mouthed by those the care little for this country north or south. Much less for our achievement of peace.
“The manner in which they loudly glory in the harm they can do to their nearest neighbours is matched only by the self harm they are intent on inflicting on their own country.
“We are not amused or threatened by Boris Johnson’s loud mouth tirade.
“The stakes for Ireland are high.
“So Let me say again, Ireland will not be collatoral damage in the Tory Brexit.”
Full text of Deputy McDonald’s speech follows:
Mary Lou McDonald TD
Leader of Sinn Féin
We gather here today, as we do each June, at the graveside of Theobald Wolfe Tone, the foremost revolutionary figure in Irish history and founder of the Society of United Irishmen.
Today we honour Tone, the men and women of 1798, and each subsequent generation of Irish republicans who have strived for the same objectives.
The 1798 rebellion saw Irish Presbyterians and members of the Church of Ireland, standing together with their Catholic neighbours in defiance of British rule, in pursuit of justice, an end to discrimination and for an independent Irish republic.
They were inspired by the examples of the American and French revolutions, and the revolutionary ideology of republicanism.
Of course, to rightfully honour Tone and his comrades, Irish republicans today must take the principles he espoused and apply them to the Ireland of 2018.
So, let us recall that Tone was a radical, a revolutionary, a democrat and an internationalist.
He and his colleagues in the 18th Century sought to foster the unity of the Irish people, in all our diversity, and to build an independent republic where the people would be masters of their own destiny.
Tone’s objectives and methods were summarized in his own words thus:
“To subvert the tyranny of our execrable government, to break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils and to assert the independence of my country- these were my objectives.
“To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter - these were my means.”
These words, these objectives and these methods guide republicans in 2018.
Sinn Féin’s primary political objective is to construct a modern, egalitarian all-Ireland republic – an agreed Ireland achieved by peaceful and democratic means.
Undoing Partition and its effects are central to the building of a truly modern, progressive, inclusive, open and forward-looking society.
A referendum on a United Ireland is an explicit provision of the Good Friday Agreement, supported by an overwhelming majority of voters on this island two decades ago.
In recent years, the conditions for the holding of such a referendum have increased dramatically.
Economic and social challenges, the civil rights of women and gay citizens and, of course, Brexit and the prospect of a hard border, are further exposing the fact that Partition does not serve the needs of our people, North or South.
This has been emphasised by the play-acting of Tory Brexit negotiators for over two years.
On the 2nd anniversary of the Brexit vote, it is clear that position of the British Prime Minister is Ireland last, if at all.
The message must go back to London, loudly and clearly, from both the EU and the Irish government, that it will be Ireland first and Ireland now.
This must happen in both word and deed.
The summit next week is crunch time.
The Irish government must persist in seeking substantive answers from Theresa May.
Without workable proposals from the British government on how they will avoid a hard border, uphold the Good Friday Agreement and protect citizens’ rights, then it would be reckless and negligent to allow negotiations progress to the next stage.
Today’s Tory sabre-rattling simply emphasises this point. The Brexiteer bullies will not bully Ireland.
Their threats of the, undoubted, economic fallout for Ireland from Brexit are loudly mouthed by those the care little for this country north or south. Much less for our achievement of peace.
The manner in which they loudly glory in the harm they can do to their nearest neighbours is matched only by the self harm they are intent on inflicting on their own country.
We are not amused or threatened by Boris Johnson’s loud mouth tirade.
The stakes for Ireland are high.
So Let me say again, Ireland will not be collatoral damage in the Tory Brexit.
These factors coupled with demographic trends are accelerating the impetus towards reunification and Sinn Féin has called for a unity referendum to be held within the next five years.
So, there is now a clear and urgent need for dialogue to manage the change that is coming.
And that dialogue has to involve unionist political leaders.
Equally important is that political leaders in this state begin practical preparations for a new, inclusive Ireland beyond Partition.
It is time now for the Irish Government to encourage and lead an informed, reasoned and respectful public dialogue on the issue of Irish unity.
It is also time that the Government prepared a realistic plan for reunification, including the establishment of an Oireachtas all-party group to bring forward a Green Paper for Irish reunification.
I believe that we are now entering a defining period in Irish political history. Change is coming. It can either be planned for or it can be chaotic. But it cannot be avoided.
We also need to accept that a process of national reconciliation is central to any genuine effort to unite the people of Ireland.
The agreement of a significant section of citizens now described as unionists is required for the building of a united Ireland.
That united Ireland must be one that is agreed, inclusive, pluralist and which is constructed by all our citizens, from all backgrounds and traditions.
As Britain turns away from Europe, the appeal of being part of a new and outward-looking Ireland will, I believe, prove ever more attractive to at least some within the unionist community in the North.
Republicans understand that we have different traditions on this island.
That there are people living here who consider themselves British.
I want to say to those people that your British identity can and will be accommodated in a united Ireland. We accept that this may involve constitutional and political safeguards.
I believe republicans need also to be open to considering transitional arrangements within an all-Ireland structure.
Increased all-Ireland co-operation and the building of relationships between people from different political outlooks, as well as being worthy in itself, can also contribute to preparing the ground for harmonious constitutional transition.
That is why Sinn Féin remains committed to re-establishing the power-sharing Executive and Assembly in the North.
Michelle O’Neill stands ready to lead our team back into Government.
But we need partners who are willing to govern for all citizens on the basis of equality and respect - partners who accept that citizens have rights which cannot be denied any longer.
Equal rights threaten nobody. Marriage equality threatens nobody. Women’s bodily integrity threatens nobody.
The Irish language threatens nobody.
Tá an Ghaeilge thar a bheith tábhachtach do Shinn Féin agus is gné ríthábhachtach í in obair ár bpáirtí.
Ní hé le rá nach féidir linn níos mó a dhéanamh - is féidir linn i gcónaí.
Agus ní hé le rá go bhfuil na freagraí uilig againn - níl.
Ach táimid tiomanta don dúshlán a thug an pobal dúinn anuraidh a shárú - sin chun Acht na Gaeilge ó thuaidh a bhaint amach agus bainfimid amach é.
Bígí cinnte faoi sin.
Toisc go bhfuil saol trí Ghaeilge á éileamh ag daoine.
Sin a bhfuil ag teastáil ó An Dream Dearg agus ó phobal na Gaeilge.
Baineann sé leis an cheart do dhúchas náisiúnta a bheith agat agus an ceart do theanga dhúchais a labhairt i do thír féin.
Baineann sé le saol trí Ghaeilge a bheith agat más mian leat.
Agus ní mór don chóras polaitiúil tacú leis sin.
So deirim, Acht Gaeilge anois a chairde!
So, let’s be clear - while the DUP remain unwilling to face up to these realities - the Irish and British governments must act to deliver these rights for citizens in the North.
Inclusion and a real republic
Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen sought to create a real republic that was not under the undue influence from the hierarchy of any particular church.
Partition and counter-revolution created two reactionary states on this island, which the conservative political, church and business elites shaped to protect their self-interests — in contrast to the vision of Tone and subsequent republican revolutionaries.
Sinn Féin today seeks a genuine republic in which the rights of citizens of all creeds and none are respected.
We are about building an Ireland for all our citizens in all their diversity, including the new minorities who have made this land their home in recent years.
A new Ireland for women
A new Ireland, a real republic, can only be realised when women are equal - fully equal.
In this regard, I welcome the repeal of the Eighth Amendment and Sinn Féin will now support the introduction of necessary legislation without delay.
That is our duty to Irish women.
And we are determined also that women in the North will not be left behind.
Every woman, North and South, must have access to compassionate medical care in their own country.
As Irish republicans, we know that there can be no freedom without the freedom of women.
We want an Ireland in where women are safe, where women are trusted, where women are equally paid
The opportunities of our new Ireland must belong to our daughters as much as they belong to our sons.
The oppression of women as lesser, as somehow inferior, as property has no place in the future we are endeavouring to build.
The shadows of the Magdalene laundries, of the symphysiotomy scandal, of the illegal adoption debacle,
The darkness of a cold, and repressive Ireland for women,
Must now be replaced by the progressive and emancipating light of Tone's vision.
That light must now shine brightly for Vicky Phelan, for Emma Mhic Mhathúna, for Irene Teap, and for all those affected by the Cervical Scandal.
Accountability must be delivered. Justice must be done.
Government in the South
As the referendum to remove the 8th Amendment has underlined, Ireland is in transition.
A lot of the old certainties are gone.
The old conservative influences have been weakened.
Today's young Irish people are more self-confident than any previous generation. They are rejecting the failed attitudes and approaches of the past.
Ireland is changing and there is room for more important change in the time ahead.
We need new political leadership to reflect and drive that change.
Many families across Ireland do not have the sense of security they should.
Jobs have become insecure and wages for many remain too low.
Hard working families are being squeezed and many have no safety net.
Sinn Féin wants to lift this burden of insecurity.
Sinn Féin wants to see a modern, inclusive society, supported by a dynamic economy with quality jobs and world class public services.
We want to house all of our people and provide quality healthcare for all on the basis of need.
Some combination of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil have ruled this state since Partition.
Between them they built a conservative, narrow-minded state with an economy designed to serve the interests of a wealthy, privileged minority.
But the political landscape is changing.
People now have a real choice and in ever-increasing numbers they are choosing Sinn Féin.
In order to change this country for the better, Sinn Féin wants to be in government North and South.
But not at any price.
We don't want to be part of the system. We want to change the system.
We will only participate in a government based on equality, that improves people's lives and reflects our republican ideals.
Comrades, as we leave here today, let us never forget that many people North and South depend on Sinn Féin.
As we stand here at Tone’s graveside let us not forget the historic task we must fulfil.
Ours is a party of nation builders and we follow in the footsteps and heroes and heroines.
A united Ireland and an egalitarian republic is the only fitting monument to their memory and sacrifice.
And let me make clear that the republican leadership of 2018 is as determined to achieve the republic as all those who went before us.
Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.
Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.