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Political stalemate cannot continue – McDonald

21 April, 2019 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD


Speaking at the Easter commemoration in Belfast’s Milltown Cemetery today Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD said that the current political stalemate in the north cannot continue.

And the Sinn Féin leader said that in the absence of the power-sharing institutions a new British Irish partnership – a joint authority - is required to implement the agreements and safeguard rights.

Mary Lou McDonald said:

“It’s now more than two years since Martin McGuinness called time on the DUP; on the lack of respect, the denial of rights and the scandals that fatally undermined the power-sharing institutions.

“For more than two years Sinn Féin has stood ready to re-establish sustainable power-sharing, to resolve the outstanding issues and to serve in government.

“Today we are ready for that challenge.

“However the British government and their pact with the DUP have stalled and stymied the political process.

“The current stalemate cannot continue.

“Last year we reached agreement with the DUP leadership to re-establish the power-sharing but they walked away and in so doing they refused to honour the agreements and work in genuine power-sharing.

“We are left with political instability and a continuing stalemate. 

“This British Government by way of response threatens direct rule.

“Let me say clearly that such a move would be an effective binning of the agreement and its power-sharing institutions.

“This cannot and must not happen.

“So if the DUP is not up for genuine power-sharing, delivery of rights and equality, then the Irish government must act.

“There is an urgent need for the convening of the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference.

"In the absence of the power-sharing institutions the alternative is not direct rule but a new British Irish partnership – a joint authority - to implement the agreements and safeguard rights.” 

The full text of Mary Lou McDonald’s address below

Mary Lou McDonald Keynote Address Belfast Easter Sunday Commemoration

Go raibh míle maith agaibh a gcairde agus a gcomrádaithe.

Táim lán-sásta seasamh anseo libh i mBéal Feirste inniu.

Agus is mór an onóir dom an óraid a thabhairt ar an ócáid stairiúil seo - ag comóradh Seachtain na Cásca 1916.

It is an honour to address you today.

There is no more fitting place for a republican to be on an Easter Sunday than at the graveside of our patriot dead.

Revolutionaries that gave all; years lost to prisons and lives cut short. 

We stand with the families of our patriot dead, humbled by your dignity and inspired by your resilience.

Tá muid fíor bhuíoch daoibhse go léir.

Across Ireland republicans gather to remember.

To remember the Rising. To remember the generations that came before and those who came after.

Generations separated only by time; united forever by a thirst for equality, freedom and sovereignty.

Ideals that are shared with many across the world.

I would like to welcome the delegation of American Trade Union leaders who are with us today.

You remain our exiled children, our friends and our family.

The inheritors of James Connolly, proclaiming that the cause of labour is the cause of Ireland and the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour.

There would have been no rising without America and there would be no peace process without American activists.

We thank you for your constant support as we continue our journey.

It is particularly fitting that you visit on the one hundredth anniversary of An Chéad Dáil.

In 1918 Republicans won a landslide victory.

It was the last All-Ireland election and the people voted for freedom. 

It became known as the Sinn Féin election. 

The new MPs decided to use their mandate in the only way fitting for republicans. They turned their back on Westminster and declared An Chéad Dáil.

They were proud abstentionists. We remain proud abstentionists.

Our place is here, our place is in Ireland.

That election returned the first woman elected to Westminster; Constance Markievicz the most unmanageable of revolutionaries.

One hundred years ago this month Markievicz was appointed Ireland’s and Europe’s first female cabinet Minister.

This was a truly revolutionary generation.

A generation that put equality into practice.

A generation that was betrayed by a counter revolution and a carnival of reaction.

An orange state was born, repression, discrimination and pogroms were used to consolidate a perpetual unionist majority.

Revolutionary ideals were lost to a civil war. Freedom, unity and equality were betrayed, home rule did indeed become Rome rule.

Sons and daughters exiled, women condemned to the Mothers and Babies homes and republicans interned and executed.

The legacy of the counter revolution lives with us still.

Our island remains partitioned, our people separated. Inequality persists and poverty remains. All of this is an affront to Irish republicanism.

The establishment parties refuse to plan and act to end partition. Fine Gael ‘The United Ireland Party’, Fianna Fáil the ‘The Republican Party’ without a hint of irony or shame declare, ‘now is not the time to talk about Irish unity’.

Let me say, over one hundred years on from the rising, now is the time to talk about unity. Now is the time to build for unity.

We have a British government that believes it can act with impunity.

That they can continue to deny the truth of their dirty war in Ireland and continue to shield their soldiers and armed forces from justice.

They did not count on the determination and dignity of the families of Ballymurphy, Springhill and Bloody Sunday.

Truth will win out. The crimes of Britain in Ireland will be exposed. The shoot to kill, the collusion and the corruption of justice.

We have a British Government that believes it can decree that Irish citizens in the North are by default British.

Belfast is a shared city, there are those who are British citizens. That is their right. Their entitlement and I respect that.

We are not British, with an aspiration to being Irish. We are Irish citizens. No British government can change or challenge that fact.

The Taoiseach has said that Irish citizens in the north will never again be left behind.

Now is the time to put that to the test. A time for the Irish government to assert and safeguard the rights of Irish citizens in Belfast. To stand by, and to stand up for the Good Friday Agreement.

Taoiseach, hollow words are no good, Irish citizens need action.

It’s now more than two years since Martin McGuinness called time on the DUP; On the lack of respect, the denial of rights and the scandals that fatally undermined the power-sharing institutions.

For more than two years Sinn Féin has stood ready to re-establish sustainable power-sharing, to resolve the outstanding issues and to serve in government.

Today we are ready for that challenge.

However the British government and their pact with the DUP have stalled and stymied the political process.

The current stalemate cannot continue.

Last year we reached agreement with the DUP leadership to re-establish power-sharing but they walked away and in so doing they refused to honour the agreements and work in genuine power-sharing.

We are left with political instability and a continuing stalemate. 

This British Government by way of response threatens direct rule.

Let me say clearly that such a move would be an effective  binning of the agreement and its power-sharing institutions.

This cannot and must not happen.

So if the DUP is not up for genuine power-sharing, delivery of rights and equality, then the Irish government must act.

There is an urgent need for the convening of the  British Irish Intergovernmental Conference.

In the absence of the power-sharing institutions the alternative is not direct rule but a new British Irish partnership – a joint authority -  to implement the agreements and safeguard rights.

Seo an rialtas céanna sa Bhreatain a chreideann gur féidir leo a thoil a bhrú ar Éirinn.

Creideann siad gur féidir leo an Breatimeacht a bhrú i gcoinne mhianta an phobail agus leasa ár náisiúin. Creideann siad gur féidir leo teorainn chrua a bhrú orainn. Ní féidir leo.

Tá an bealach chun an Breatimeacht a shárú soiléir. Tá an bealach chun an teorainn in Éirinn a ghlanadh. Tá an bealach ar ais chun an Aontais Eorpaigh soiléir fosta.

As Brexit looms against the democratic will of the people and threatens to undermine our agreements, our rights ad our economy. The way forward is increasingly clear.

The Good Friday Agreement provides for a referendum on Irish Unity. That referendum must be secured and won.

The perpetual unionist majority is gone. Time is up for partition.

A new and united Ireland is emerging.

It will not be easy and it will not be without challenge.

This generation can deliver a united Ireland and a republic worthy of the name.

The sacrifices of our patriots do not need to be repeated.

They fought because there was no other way. The denial of democratic rights and repressive regimes left no other pathway to unity.

But now we have a democratic and peaceful pathway to unity.

This is the agreed and only way for Irish republicans.

We saw on the streets of Derry the brutal killing of Lyra McKee.

We extend our sympathy and solidarity to her family, to Sara and to all who loved her.

There is no cause progressed by armed actions.

There is no justification for armed actions.

There is no support for armed actions.

This Easter the people of Derry and beyond have said that with one voice.

The war is over.

A new and united Ireland is emerging. It will be built by the community. It will be built through dialogue and respect.

It will be built peacefully and democratically.

So it is past time for these groups that masquerade as republicans to pack up. To cease their activities and let the people get on with building the Ireland we all want.

An Ireland that will be a tribute for our patriot dead and for all those who died.

The Ireland in which Lyra McKee should have lived.

It is the job of our generation of republicans not just to remember the dead but to realise their hopes and dreams by our deeds and words.

The new united Ireland we build; must be the legacy of all those who have died.

A united Ireland of equal citizens

Equal citizens with equal rights and due equal respect.

That celebrates our diversity; the right to speak our native language, the right to marry the person you love, the right to truth.

A united Ireland of shared prosperity and equal opportunity.

In which there can be no place for poverty, homelessness or the erosion of workers’ rights.An Ireland of opportunity, the opportunity to learn, to work, to raise a family and to grow old; with the security of a home, health care and a helping hand.

A United Ireland peaceful and reconciled.

Where respect is afforded to all citizens. Where you can be British, Irish, both or neither.

One community, free from segregation and separation.

There are some who object to us asserting our political identity. They object to us remembering our dead.

To them I say no one has the right to censor or deny grief. 

We all have the right to remember with dignity and respect.

In her poem ‘why some people be mad at me sometimes’, African-American poet and civil rights activist Lucile Clifton simply wrote. 

'they ask me to remember

but they want me to remember their memories

and I keep remembering mine.’

A reconciled Ireland must be a place for all with all our experiences and memories.

A place to express our politics, our aspirations and our hopes.

A place  to sing our songs, tell our stories and remember our dead free from rancour or objection.

A place resounding with the laughter of all our children. A tribute to the vision of Bobby Sands and his comrades.

The time for building a united Ireland is now.

In the coming weeks we will have elections North and South. This is an opportunity to put forward our vision of a new and united Ireland. To do so with confidence and generosity.

Electing Sinn Féin councillors across Ireland makes the difference.

Electing Sinn Féin MEPs makes the difference.

Sinn Féin is a party that thinks nationally and acts locally.

We are internationalists and value Ireland’s place in the world. Standing against injustice and persecution. Standing for peace and equality. 

Our struggle is one of hope and perseverance. Of hard work and sacrifice.  Of standing up for what is right and refusing to bow down. That is the republican way.

So it was when James Connolly came to Belfast as a union organiser.

He described the Belfast mills as, ‘slaughter houses for the women and penitentiaries for the children’.

In his address to the Linen Slaves of Belfast, co-signed by Ellen Gordon and Winifred Carney, whose graveside is nearby.

He wrote.

‘Sisters and fellow-workers, talk this matter over, do not be frightened by the timid counsels and fears of weaklings. Be brave. Have confidence in yourselves. Talk about success and you will achieve success.

The future is ours to shape.

We are building a new united Ireland.

That work starts in homes, workplaces and communities across Ireland.

Be brave. Be confident. Be patient and be generous.

This is our time, this is your time.

The day is coming, Irish Unity is within our grasp.

We will have a republic worthy of the sacrifice of our patriots.

It will be a home to all. 

So sin é a chairde.

Leanaigí ar aghaidh leis an obair.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.

Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.

Up the Republic.

An Phoblacht Abú! 

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