Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 51 Number 12, April 10, 2021 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

National Easter Commemoration Address by Sinn Féin President

Now Is the Time for Irish Unity

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald

In a keynote address delivered at Sinn Féin's online National Easter Commemoration [1], its president Mary Lou McDonald called on Ireland's political leadership to show an ambition that matches the hope of a generation rising up with tenacity to lay claim to the destiny of the people of Ireland by preparing for Irish unity.

In a speech entitled,"Now is our time, now is the time for Irish Unity", she said that a united Ireland presents an exciting opportunity to shape something new, something different and something better than anything that has gone before. She added that the grand vision of Pearse and Connolly [2] has been renewed and that, much like the rebels of 1916, the present generation is also impatient for change.

The Sinn Féin president said that those who fought for freedom in 1916 set out to liberate their country from British rule and to shape a nation that would thrive and prosper. "They stepped into the role of change-makers because they believed in the new Ireland, the independent republic so poetically expressed in the proclamation," she said. "As a generation impatient for change, they knew their time had come. They seized the day."

Mary Lou McDonald pointed out that today once again the people of the island of Ireland find themselves at a crossroads. "In a time of lives lost and lives disrupted, the failed ways of the old Ireland have been exposed like never before," she said.

"A century on from partition [3], people wake up every morning and know that the divided Ireland of 2021 doesn't work for them or their families," she emphasised. "We see the broken politics of partition every day. People's entire lives defined by the search for a home they can afford, by the struggle to access treatments when they are sick, working long hours and still not making ends meet, younger people starved of opportunity, and rural towns and villages left behind. The lack of fairness and inequality is frightening. People want better. They are fed-up with politics from a bygone age that holds them back and stifles their potential."

The Sinn Féin president underlined that the task of bringing about real change for workers and families is linked inextricably to the goal of reunifying Ireland. This is not only achievable, but is necessary. She pointed out that unity is being talked about in every corner of Ireland.

"A United Ireland is an idea whose time has come," she declared. "No longer will we be told - this far and no further. A new generation is rising up with the hope and tenacity to lay claim to our destiny and to the future of our island."

"We will not be constrained by old, jaded thinking. Or by those who wish to cast the debate on Irish Unity as an exhausted collision between green and orange or as a friction point between Britishness and Irishness," Mary Lou McDonald said. "This gets us nowhere. Irish Unity is not the politics of shame or loss. It's the politics of progress. The politics of a nation that transcends all the hurt, division and conflict of the past by forging a new future together, for all us."

Workers' Weekly too pays tribute to those who gave their lives for Irish freedom, including Bobby Sands and his fellow hunger-strikers of the 1980s.

The Sinn Féin president pointed out that, no matter what the backgrounds of the people of Ireland, the things they have in common and bring them together are far greater than those which divide them.

She pointed out that in the Ireland of 2021, partition has failed and unity is the answer. "It would be unforgivable," she said, "to emerge from this pandemic and not seize the opportunity to prepare for unity, for our new Ireland."

It is necessary to prepare for a referendum on Irish unity in order for the people to have their say, was the message of Sinn Féin.

Mary Lou McDonald honoured those who gave their lives for Irish freedom and sent solidarity to the families of the patriots who died. "In so doing, we look firmly to the future," she said.

"We can do this. We can be the generation that unites Ireland," she declared. "We - the people of Ireland - are up to this task." Addressing the those participating in the National Commemoration she continued, "During this pandemic, you have responded with togetherness, kindness and compassion. This is who we are. These are the values of unity. The rebels of 1916 were the change-makers of their day. Today, the role of change-maker falls to us. This is our time."

The Sinn Féin president concluded, "The past was for those who seek to divide. The future is for those of us who seek to unite. Those who seek to hold back the tide of change can have yesterday. But tomorrow is ours. A new and united Ireland is on the horizon. Let's seize this moment, together."

Workers' Weekly too pays tribute to those who gave their lives for Irish freedom, including Bobby Sands and his fellow hunger-strikers of the 1980s. The unity of the working class and peoples of Ireland and England, Scotland and Wales is a quality we cherish. We look to the future together with the patriotic forces of Sinn Féin. Not only is it that "our time will come", but we endorse the sentiment of Sinn Féin's president that "now is the time for Irish unity".

1. For more information on the Easter Rising of 1916, see Workers' Weekly: Commemoration of the Easter Rising 1916
2. For Gerry Adams, the former president of Sinn Féin, speaking on the vision of Pearse and Connolly, and other articles on the Easter Rising, see Workers' Daily:
3. From the Party press, December 11-17, 1999:
Formation of Northern Ireland Assembly Executive and Repeal of Government of Ireland Act:

Important Step in Building Irish Nation Anew and a Blow to the Rule of the English Bourgeoisie

Northern Ireland's political parties met on Monday, November 29, in the Assembly and appointed ten Ministers to the new executive following the Mitchell review proposals. This was followed on Thursday, December 2, when political power - the legislative powers and executive authorities - was legally devolved from Westminster to northern Ireland, beginning at midnight as December 2 commenced. At the same time, the Government of Ireland Act 1920 was repealed. The Government of Ireland Act it was which partitioned Ireland, forming a "Northern" and a "Southern" Ireland. On the same day, the Irish government also rescinded the old Articles 2 and 3 from the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland. These articles specified a territorial claim over the six counties in the north of Ireland. Also on December 2, the establishment of the cross-border bodies was written into effect by the British and Irish governments.

On December 13, delegations from the executives of both the south and north of Ireland led by their respective Prime and First Ministers, will get together in Armagh in the north to launch the North/South Ministerial Council.

Workers' Weekly congratulates the people of the north of Ireland, particularly the republican movement, for achieving this important step in building the Irish nation anew. This achievement is also a blow to the class rule of the English bourgeoisie by striking a blow against the division of Ireland which has for so long been a pillar of that rule.

The republican movement in the north of Ireland has refused to be phased by the continual inability and refusal of the English bourgeoisie to find a peaceful solution to ending the partition of Ireland. As Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said, regarding partition, "Clearly we are a society moving out of conflict, a conflict born of the British government's involvement in Ireland. This status quo has changed and will continue to change. The new constitutional arrangements point up the failure of Partition. The British government has now recognised that this is a disputed territory."

The British government had been striving to end the armed conflict, which has stemmed from partition, in northern Ireland while at the same time maintaining the status quo. It would have preferred to have kept conflict and divisions simmering while imposing "peace". It has needed an end to the armed struggle, which has been an embarrassment to its "humanitarian" posturing on the world stage, while also freeing British troops for their endeavours further afield, such as in the Balkans. There is also the European rapid deployment force to be taken into account and the participation of British armed forces in NATO.
[A]t this time, the English workers must grasp firstly what an exposure the setting up of the Northern Ireland Assembly, together with the cross-border bodies, is of the viciousness and bankruptcy of the British government's policy of partition of Ireland and annexation of the north. This policy has not only caused so much suffering and bloodshed in Ireland but most importantly has been the cornerstone of the maintenance of the oppressive British state and its subjection of the workers for so long through division, chauvinism and social democracy, and the suppression of the rights of self-determination for the respective nations within Britain. At the same time, English workers must recognise that, while the progress towards Irish reunification is exerting pressure on the English bourgeoisie, this period of peace is for the government also a period of further militarisation of the state, not only for intervention abroad and bolstering the aggressive blocs of NATO and the armed might o f the European Union, but also to prepare for the new upsurges in the working class and people's movements which lie ahead. These preparations include strengthening the repressive legislation against and criminalisation of these struggles, all within the Blairite programme of "Making Britain Great Again". [...]


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