This time 220 years ago Ireland was in the midst of dramatic political and revolutionary change.
It was described as ‘The time of the Hurry’ in the poem ‘The man from God knows where’ dedicated to Thomas Russell.
The United Irishmen were the engine of that change.
They took their inspiration from the new democratic and egalitarian ideals of the American and French revolutions.
They were Republican separatists committed to the promotion of anti-sectarianism, fraternity and equality.
They forged alliances across Irish society and mounted an unprecedented military insurgency in every Province.
In my own county the United Irishmen took control of towns like Randalstown and Ballymena. Local United Irish leaders such as Henry Joy McCracken, Roddy McCorley and William Orr remain household names to this day.
Jemmy Hope “The Weaver” from Templepatrick and his farseeing revolutionary vision became an ideological reference point for Fintan Lawlor and later generations of Irish Revolutionaries.
These and others personified the central tenet of emergent Irish Republicanism – the unity of Protestant, Catholic and dissenter.
Wolfe Tone famously summarised the United Irish Republican programme:
“To break the connection with England…and to assert the independence of my country, these were my objects. To unite the whole people of Ireland… and to substitute the common name of Irishman, in place of Protestant, Catholic and dissenter, these were my means.”
As modern day Irish Republicans in the tradition of Tone, we are dedicated to the establishment of a national Republic, built upon equality, fraternity, unity and reconciliation between all citizens in Ireland.
Our primary aim is for an agreed, multicultural united Ireland, which celebrates diversity and equality, and shuns bigotry and discrimination.
Sinn Féin stands against all forms of sectarianism, racism, homophobia, sexism, and intolerance in society.
Today’s Ireland is one of huge social change and political realignment.
Partition continues to be the central fault line at the heart of Irish politics and society.
The imposition of the Brexit decision upon the people of the six counties has now magnified that fault line.
We are clear; Brexit is a by-product of partition and continued British jurisdiction in the North of our country.
It has now become a catalyst for a new realignment of politics in Ireland; in relations between this island and Britain: and, it is redefining politics in the British State and Europe itself.
Irish Unity has become central to the political discourse.
Next Saturday in Belfast at the Waterfront our party will host a major national conference on Irish Unity to build on that discussion.
Many citizens are now looking beyond the Brexit fall out and towards new constitutional and political opportunities.
In the North, greater numbers of ordinary people are now more engaged with politics.
Young people have become increasingly politicised.
All that is reflected in the Assembly and General election results in March and just last week.
The election of 27 Sinn Féin MLA’s and 7 MPs with 239,000 votes is an historic high in electoral support for our party, and for progressive politics.
I want to thank every activist and supporter and all their families who contributed to these spectacular achievements; and also to all of our voters.
There is a building momentum for Irish Unity and in support of anti-unionist and progressive politics.
There is also a new, popular expectation of real, and substantial political change.
The people of the North have spoken.
Sinn Féin respects the mandate secured by the DUP.
But make no mistake Sinn Féin’s electoral mandate is a vindication of our pledge that there will be no return to the status quo: and I repeat; no citizen or section of society will be put to the back of the bus again.
In 1967 our parents and grandparents and others in this gathering set out to demand civil rights in the North. They were beaten and shot off the streets.
Fifty years later an equality revolution is happening in the six counties and it is being led by young people.
Agus tá siad tiomanta agus diongbhailte. Tá siad dearg le fearg agus tá muid go léir dearg le fearg.
For the first time since partition electoral support for political unionism has fallen below 50%.
These are the new realities.
And this is the new context for the current round of political talks.
Let us be clear – the political crisis in the North can be resolved.
The political institutions can be re-established.
However, that means the DUP and British government need to get the message – which they have ignored since Martin McGuinness’ resignation on 9th January.
So I will spell it out.
The equality and rights agenda is not negotiable.
Agreements previously made on equality, rights, parity of esteem and legacy must be implemented.
The Good Friday Agreement cannot be unpicked.
The political institutions must not be misused to advance institutionalised bigotry.
Continued refusal by the DUP and British government to accept these fundamental positions will create only one outcome: a future of permanent political instability.
The DUP have spent the last week in talks with the British Government trying to strike a deal which will keep the Tories in power.
As with Brexit, any deal with Tories will be bad for the economy, public services and for citizens.
This Tory government cares as little for working-class unionists as it does for working-class republicans.
Working-class unionists did not vote for Tories.
The DUP leadership know that. They know the north is of no consequence in Westminster.
Even Edward Carson recognised this nearly 100 years ago. He said:
“What a fool I was… in the political game that was to get the Conservative party into power.”
The central fact is the political process in the North remains overshadowed by financial scandals.
That is why Sinn Féin stood the DUP leader down from her position last January.
The focus on her future role in an Executive is completely misdirected and premature.
That discussion will only arise when there is an acceptable implementation plan to restore public confidence in the political process and ensures that the institutions will work on the basis of proper power sharing, equality, respect and integrity.
This is a serious situation, which demands a serious focus by all parties.
It is not a game, and it is certainly not a dance.
If the DUP really wants to go into the Executive, that party needs to decide whether it is now prepared to embrace a rights-based approach to government in the North.
Instead of pretending that a crisis does not really exist, the DUP should get with the programme.
If the DUP imagines it can wind back the clock, with a Tory side deal or not, and reestablish the institutions without adherence to equality and rights, then the DUP is indeed living in a fool’s paradise.
As for the two governments, instead of talking up the prospect of a successful outcome to these talks, they and the DUP should reread Martin McGuinness’ resignation letter on the 9th January.
It sets out exactly what is required to restore public confidence, and to create the conditions for proper government in the North.
We don’t need optical illusions; we expect change!
The new Irish government now carries a huge responsibility.
The failure of the last Irish government to fulfil its obligations as a co-guarantor for the Good Friday Agreement is a national scandal.
This dereliction of political leadership must end.
The new Taoiseach and his administration should now publicly disassociate itself from the pro-unionist, partisan position of the British government.
This Irish government should bring forward a comprehensive plan for Irish reunification, including:
– A joint Oireachtas committee on preparing for Irish unity;
– A government White Paper on national reunification;
– And, specific proposals for a unity referendum on the island.
This month 40 years ago and here at Tone’s grave our comrade Jimmy Drumm correctly observed that the achievement of national and social liberation relied upon the development of a popular progressive movement for change throughout Ireland.
Today we live in an Ireland of endemic financial scandal, political corruption, gombeen elites, discrimination and sectarianism.
The strategic position articulated by Jimmy Drumm in 1977 is now more relevant than ever.
The austerity programmes imposed by Fine Gael and the British Tories have entrenched social inequality, both North and South.
None of our children should have to live in fear from poverty or austerity; inequality or discrimination; or from intolerance or sectarianism.
Social inequality is the antithesis of values enshrined in the 1916 Proclamation and the democratic programme of 1919.
Every Irish citizen is entitled to a home, an education, comprehensive health care free at the point of delivery, and, equal pay for equal work.
Instead social inequality, political corruption and financial scandal have become bywords for public policy under Fine Gael.
The new Taoiseach seems determined to take his government further to the right.
If that is his intention, then he should call a general election now, and let the people cast its verdict on that political programme.
In those circumstances Sinn Féin will go forward with our progressive political agenda.
We know where we stand, and it’s not with the gombeen men, the crooks, or fat cats.
To paraphrase Tone Sinn Féin stands with:
“That numerous and respectable class of the community, the men of no property.”
Irish unity has never been more achievable.
But that goal is only inevitable when Republicans successfully persuade sufficient numbers of our people that an agreed, united Ireland will serve their interests.
The refusal of significant sections of political unionism to embrace a shared future, and divisions caused by deep-seated sectarianism, create enormous challenges for Republicans.
Yet despite that, we must continue to show generosity of spirit, and reassurance to our unionist neighbours in the North.
As agents of change it is up to us to reach into the wider unionist constituency.
As republicans in the United Irish tradition we have to demonstrate how their rights, traditions, and identity will be accommodated in a new constitutional framework of an agreed Ireland.
It is for us to convince them that it is far better for Irish unionists to exert their influence over a progressive Ireland, instead of being reduced to stage props for a right-wing British Tory government.
Sinn Féin’s policies on reconciliation and anti-sectarianism represent genuine contributions towards the development of reconciliation between Republicans and unionists, within Irish society, and, between Ireland and Britain.
These need to be internalised and mainstreamed within our political work, both North and South.
Our generation of Republicans are history makers.
Martin McGuinness atá anois ar shlí na fírinne, and whom we greatly miss here today, as well as others in our leadership, have brought us to this point.
Now it is for the rest of us to finish that work.
We must become the nation builders.
We must continue the transformation of Irish society.
Meeting these responsibilities requires a step change in our party.
We need to be always strategically focused, cohesive, flexible and creative.
Let us be clear: building popular support and political strength is not a plan for opposition.
Our political strategy is a road map for governmental power.
So that means Sinn Féin being in government North and South.
This is our road map to achieving national democracy and a united Ireland.
But being in government is not a vanity contest.
This party is not interested in acting as a prop for the status quo North or South.
Political institutions are not ends in themselves: they should be made to work as the means to make positive change.
And of course, we must avoid being defined by the nature of the political institutions.
Sinn Féin participation in the Dáil, Assembly, all-Ireland institutions and European Parliament must be at the heart of a broader momentum for political and social change in Ireland.
If change is to be people centred, then change must be driven by the people.
A popular democratic movement for transformation needs to be developed across Ireland.
That is a progressive coalition of political, civic, community, cultural and labour activists united in support of economic democracy, sustainable public services, equality, rights, and the welfare of citizens.
These are the means of modern Republicans today.
Ireland is in transition. Our party is in transition.
The process of leadership succession has already commenced.
We have begun to implement a ten-year plan to regenerate our party with more youth and women; and enhanced skills and capacity.
Mar sin, más cearta, cothromas agus Poblacht atá uaibh – ná habraigí é – eagraigí, tógaigí, agus déanaigí é.
If you want equality and rights – if you want fairness in Irish society:
If you really want a Republic – then just don’t vote Sinn Féin:
Join Sinn Féin – and get your family and friends to do the same.
We continue to take our inspiration from Tone.
This afternoon in Bodenstown we stand resolute in the tradition of Henry Joy McCracken, William Orr, Roddy McCorley, Jemmy Hope, Betsy Gray and Mary-Anne McCracken.
Now let us go forward reenergised and confident, to mobilise and organise, and to achieve national independence and Irish Unity.
There has been no substantive progress in the talks at Stormont Castle because the DUP and the British and Irish governments have failed to step up to the plate.
Sinn Féin is still intent on honouring our mandate and agreements made. We want to see the institutions restored but there can be no return to the status quo.
There has been no substantive progress in the talks at Stormont Castle because the DUP and the British and Irish governments have failed to step up to the plate. Sinn Féin is still intent on honouring our mandate and agreements made. We want to see the institutions restored but there can be no return to the status quo.
Posted by Sinn Féin Ireland on Sunday, March 26, 2017
As Gaeilge, cuirtear ‘taoiseach’ ar an ‘chief’. Sí fíor go raibh Martin McGuinness mar sár taoiseach muintir an phoblacht, muintir an fíor Irish Republic. Seo an turas deiridh abhaile Taoiseach Martin.
Martin McGuinness homecoming in the Bogside this afternoon
Posted by Derry SinnFéin on Tuesday, March 21, 2017
The word ‘taoiseach’ is Irish for ‘chief’, or leader. Martin was a gifted leader to the people of the true Irish Republic. This is his final journey home.
Cllr Martin Browne of Sinn Féin Tipperary has expressed sadness on behalf of all Sinn Féin members in the county upon learning of the passing of Martin McGuinness, aged 66.
Cllr Browne said: “I wish to offer our greatest respect and sympathy to Martin’s family on his passing. Martin was a true Republican, and a man of his time who never shirked from his duties. While all of us know of him, and of his tireless work and his boundless energy, they know best of his private side.”
“Martin was a true hero, or laoch. He showed immense courage over his long career. He saw a problem and took a stand to solve it. Unlike so many he stood for something, and used his courage to stand and work for the Irish Republic.”
“He was unwavering in his determination, and took enormous personal risks to help establish peace. He was willing to talk and work with anyone in favour of that peace objective, and is a role model for us all of tolerance and respect.”
“His determination to establish and maintain a just peace on the island will be his greatest legacy. It only remains for us to complete the task.”
“On behalf of all members of Sinn Féin in Tipperary I offer our greatest comhbhrón. Our thoughts are with them, as surely as our respect is with Martin.”
“I measc laochra na nGael go raibh a anam.”
Martin McGuinness is calling on all of us to do everything we can in this last week of the campaign to get the strongest possible Sinn Féin vote on 2nd March.
One simple thing we can all do today to support Martin in that call is to share this video!
Martin McGuinness is calling on all of us to do everything we can in this last week of the campaign to get the strongest possible Sinn Féin vote on 2nd March.One simple thing we can all do today to support Martin in that call is to share this video!
Posted by Sinn Féin Ireland on Friday, February 24, 2017
Commenting after the families of the victims of the McGurk’s Bar Bombing spoke before the the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality, Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile said:
“The McGurk families were very welcome to the Oireachtas today.
“Their accounts of the massacre of their loved ones in December 1971 and the treatment of the atrocity by the British government of the time and successive British governments is appalling.
“Fifteen people, including two children, died in the outrage.
“Within hours of the massacre the British government deliberately spread lies that the IRA was responsible for the bombing and that those who died were also involved despite the fact that an eye-witness gave RTE an interview, which was broadcast saying he saw the bombers fleeing the scene.
“These lies were based on reports from the British Army and the RUC that were willingly accepted and promoted by the British and unionist governments.
“A British Army scenes-of-crime assessor submitted a report to the British Army Headquarters in which he stated that the bomb was placed in the entrance to the bar.
“This contradicted the public account by the British government and the soldiers report was marked ‘Not for PR’.
“The lie was publicly supported by Reginal Maudling, British cabinet minister, Brian Faulkner, the North’s prime minister, John Taylor, unionist cabinet minister, Graham Shillington, RUC Chief Constable and Sir Harry Tuzo, British Army GOC among many others.
“The lie continued for decades until the families uncovered the truth themselves from the British government’s own files in Kew Gardens.
“The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) and the police Ombudsman failed to find these files.
“The families are seeking justice and the truth.
“I support the calls they made today for a new investigation, a new inquest and the scrapping of the HET report into the massacre.
“It is time the families of the bereaved were given the truth after 46 years of lies and deceit.”
Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams TD, today raised the Pat Finucane case with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil.
He did so after the Court of Appeal in Belfast dismissed the appeal by the Finucane family against the refusal of the British government to honour its commitment on a Public Inquiry.
Speaking to the Taoiseach Gerry Adams called on the Irish government to bring the Finucane case before the United Nations, the European Union, the government of the United States and to every other available international forum.
Teachta Adams said:
“I have to ask the Taoiseach what the government has done to implement the Weston Park agreement between the British and Irish governments in 2001?
“This committed both governments to hold inquiries if a judge appointed to examine these cases recommended this. Judge Peter Cory concluded that four inquiries should be held. Three have taken place. But the British government has refused to hold an inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane!
“In October 2011 the British Prime Minister appointed Desmond de Silva to review the case files. The de Silva report was published in December 2012. It revealed a scale of collusion that is staggering. It serves to reinforce the need for an enquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane.”
De Silva revealed that:
· 85% of intelligence that the UDA used to target people for murder originated from British army and RUC sources
· Agents working for MI5, RUC Special Branch and British Military Intelligence were participating in criminality, including murder.
· This issue was also considered extensively at British cabinet level and ministers were aware that the agents were being run without guidelines. The director general of the MI5 briefed Margaret Thatcher in 1988.
Teachta Adams added:
“Pat Finucane’s murder by state agents was not a one-off incident – it was the norm. Collusion was a matter of institutional and administrative practise by successive British governments. It involved the establishing of unionist paramilitary groups, the systematic infiltration by the British of all unionist death squads at the highest levels, the controlling and directing of these groups, their training and providing them with information on people to be killed.
“The role of successive Irish governments in all of this has not been helpful, strategic or as consistent as it could be. That is why I urged the Taoiseach today to develop a strategy that will employ the full resources of our diplomatic service to raise this case with our international friends at every opportunity. This should include bringing the Pat Finucane case before the United Nations, the European Union, to the government of the United States and to every other available international forum.”
Of late, considerable coverage has been devoted to Martin McGuinness’ nomination for the Tipperary Peace Prize, most notably in the Tipperary Star, which was headlined with “ANGER MOUNTS” on its front page, as well as to referring to the supposed ‘outrage’ of McGuinness being nominated for such an award.
To contend that McGuinness is ‘unfit’ to be recognised for his extraordinary peace-building endeavours in the North of Ireland on account of his involvement in the IRA is quite simply ridiculous and utterly obtuse. Such critics would do well to note that last year’s recipient, was former US Secretary of State John Kerry. In addition to his tenure in that office which is difficult to describe as being either ‘pro-peace’ or ‘non-confrontational’, Mr Kerry was a combatant in the criminally destructive Vietnam War.
Though in the later stages of the Vietnam War John Kerry would receive acclaim – and deservingly so – as an anti-war whisteblower, it does not negate the fact that he was the captain of a boat unit that was engaged in an operation renowned for its aggression and cruelty towards Vietnamese villagers and fishermen. Nonetheless, Kerry’s Tipperary Peace Prize Award was presented with not so much as an iota of disquiet or opposition; that silence in comparison with hypocritical the response to Martin McGuinness’ recent nomination.
Martin McGuinness’ nomination for this award makes sense and is completely deserved. As a leader of the Republican movement, Martin has achieved breath-taking results in working towards peace and justice in an fraught political environment; this is a state of peace which, for whatever its flaws, is substantial, too often taken for granted, and once thought impossible.
Martin and Sinn Féin have worked tirelessly and always in good faith towards making this process permanent in spite of the disrespect too often afforded to them by other actors, whether that be the current contempt and chauvinism demonstrated by the Tory Brexiteers, the arrogance of bull-headed unionists or the habitual negligence of the Dublin government and its institutions.
What’s more, it is not like Martin’s co-nominees are without controversy themselves. Amal Clooney, Amnesty International and the ‘White Helmets’ civil defence organisation occupy a very partisan position on the Syrian conflict. They explicitly lobby for a forceful international military intervention against the Syrian government. The White Helmets in particular have attracted especial notoriety for its dubious overlap with anti-government militias; that undermines its ostensible position as a politically neutral and civil humanitarian organisation.
It must also be stated that it is disappointing that the ongoing peace process in Colombia has received virtually no recognition from the Tipperary Peace Convention in contrast to the preponderance of attention focused on Syria. In one of the world’s longest ongoing conflicts – stretching five decades – Colombia is on the brink of attaining a concrete and lasting peace. In a country that is seen as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a trade unionist or human rights activist, this is an not an opportunity that can be let slip.
Sinn Féin have worked closely with the FARC rebel group to offer their extensive and long-standing experience in conflict resolution, and President Michael D. Higgins has also shown commendable and progressive statesmanship recently, when he visited Colombia. In so doing, he became the first European head of state to visit a FARC guerrilla detachment at a demobilisation camp.
These traits of leadership, dialogue and reconciliation are principles that Martin McGuinness has demonstrated consistently; to obscure them is disingenuous. To deny them outright is dishonest.
From: Sinn Féin Republican Youth Tipperary, Chairperson James Lyons.
Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams TD, today raised the Pat Finucane case with the Taoiseach in the Dáil and calls on the Taoiseach to initiate a diplomatic offensive to get the British government to honour its obligations and commitments.
This morning the Belfast High Court dismissed the appeal of Geraldine Finucane against the British government for its refusal to hold the promised inquiry into his murder in February 1989.
The family have been involved in a long battle with the British state over the circumstances of Pat Finucane’s death and the role of the British state and of its agents in carrying out that murder.
Speaking to the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, in the Dáil Gerry Adams TD said:
“I trust you noted that the Court of Appeal in Belfast has dismissed the appeal of Geraldine Finucane.
“It did so on the basis that Ministers are entitled to depart from the policies of previous governments.
“This decision has serious implications beyond the case of Pat Finucane.”
Speaking afterward Gerry Adams said:
“I want to commend the courage and determination of Geraldine Finucane and the Finucane family for pursuing this case through the courts.
“At Weston Park in 2001, the British and Irish Governments agreed to invite Judge Peter Cory to examine four cases, including that of Pat Finucane. Judge Cory concluded that four inquiries should be held. Three have taken place, including one by the Irish Government. However, the British Government has refused to honour its commitment.
“In October 2011, the British Prime Minister David Cameron further disappointed the Finucane family by refusing an inquiry and instead appointing Desmond de Silva to review the case files. The de Silva report was published in December 2012 and it revealed a shocking scale of collusion by the British and Unionist paramilitaries. It serves to reinforce the need for an inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane.
“There is an onus on the Irish government to ensure that the British government honours its obligations and commitments. The Taoiseach should initiate a diplomatic offensive to ensure this.”