Bodenstown 2017: Advancing towards Irish Unity – in the United Irish tradition

“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.” – Declan Kearney.

“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.” – Wolfe Tone.


This is the address by Declan Kearney at Bodenstown 2017: Advancing towards Irish Unity – in the United Irish tradition

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.

Declan Kearney, Sinn Féin National Chairperson.

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.

Bígí línne.

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.

Peadar Tóibín TD welcomes the introduction of the Famine Commemoration Bill

Sinn Féin TD for Meath West, Peadar Tóibín TD, has welcomed the introduction of a Bill seeking a fixed Commemoration Day for the famine. However, An Teachta Tóibín has expressed disappointment that Fine Gael cynically introduced it’s bill in a reluctant response to the similar Sinn Féin Bill introduced a few weeks ago.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“I welcome that this Bill will be introduced. It is shocking that, in response to a recent PQ that I submitted, we have learned that the Government still have not selected the day for this year, 2017, in which we will commemorate the Famine.

“Each year, citizens and community groups around the world seek to organise commemorative events to pay tribute and remember the most significant time of our nation’s history. They are frustrated by the Government’s inability to select the date in a neither fixed nor timely fashion.

“Currently, the commemoration date swings from between May to September each year meaning that planning and preparation, especially for those overseas is particularly difficult. This Bill will place the Famine Memorial Day on the second Sunday of May, the same date as was proposed by the Sinn Féin Bill.

“It is undoubtedly a positive development that the famine receives appropriate commemoration. It is, by far, the single most difficult and influential period of our history. I do believe it is enormously cynical that the government could not work with an opposition Bill but sought to replicate a Sinn Féin Bill for the purpose of having their own finger prints on the initiative.

“Regardless of this political shimmying, Sinn Féin is very supportive of the introduction of the Famine Commemoration Day Bill and the end to the annual certainty over the date of commemoration.”

Minister Charlie Flanagan must apply for Presidential Decree on Ibrahim Halawa’s behalf now

Minister Charlie Flanagan must apply for Presidential Decree on Ibrahim Halawa’s behalf now – Lynn Boylan MEP

Responding to the shocking news that Ibrahim Halawa’s trial has been postponed for a fourteenth time until October 2nd, Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has urged the Irish government to act immediately for the sake of Ibrahim’s mental health.

Speaking from Brussels, the MEP said:

“I, along with Ibrahim’s family, have pleaded for some time with the Irish government to apply for the Presidential Decree on Ibrahim’s behalf. The Presidential Decree has always been available to the Irish Government pre-sentencing.  It would allow Ibrahim to return to Ireland before a final ruling has been made in his case, and it is used in cases where a deportation or extradition would serve the ‘higher interest’ of the Egyptian state.

Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish citizen, who is being held indefinitely in an Egyptian prison.

“Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has always refused to do so until the trial has been completed.  We had been led to believe that a verdict would be issued today but we now hear that Ibrahim’s trial has been postponed until October.   Minster Flanagan and the Irish government must surely now accept that their strategy is failing. They need to follow the example of the Australian Government and apply for the Decree pre-sentencing.

“Australian journalist Peter Greste, a former cell mate of Ibrahim’s, was released and back home with his family before his trial concluded.

“For the sake of Ibrahim’s mental health, the Irish government must act now. News of such decisive action would give some comfort to the young man.

“I believe this must now be Minister Charlie Flanagan’s sole urgent plan of action.

“How much longer will the Irish government stand idly by as trial after trial is postponed? Enough is enough. Please act now and apply for the presidential Decree.”

 

Browne calls for border poll

2016-06-24

Councillor Martin Browne of Sinn Féin Tipperary has called for a border poll following the result of the Brexit referendum, saying that the United Kingdom is no longer united and that the popular vote in Ulster to remain shows the rift between the 6 counties and England.

Cllr Browne said: “The result comes as a shock to many, and there will be some time before the implications are fully understood. But what is clear is that the United Kingdom is no longer united, and that vast swathes of that state voted to remain within the EU. Among those are Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

After 56% voted to remain, the 6 counties of Northern Ireland will suffer disproportionately as a result of this vote. Unlike other parts of the UK the 6 counties share a land border with what is now a politically separate state. The impact on their economy is inevitable, but that will impact the island as a whole.”

Considering how small this island is, and the burden on the people of supporting two parliaments and all that goes with that, it makes no sense to now re-establish the border as the border between the EU and the UK.”

The result of 56% voting to remain, compared to 52% of the UK as a whole voting to leave, shows there is significant dissatisfaction in the 6 counties with the direction of the UK. We owe it to ourselves and to common sense to now examine the viability of the border.”

A border poll is the logical response at this point, to give the peoples of the 6 counties the opportunity to join with the 26 counties who share common geography, environment, and the one island with them.”

Jobs for Tipp, not just water for Dublin!

Sinn Féin’s Tipperary General Election candidate Cllr. Séamie Morris has voiced his continued resistance to the plan to commencing drain Lough Derg to feed the leaks in Dublin’s water supply. Speaking on Tipp FM he outlined his objections to the plan to lay pipes to divert water through industrial piping, from Lough Derg to Dublin.

Cllr Morris said: “First of all this is being carried out by a company, Irish Water PLC, that has absolutely no credibility with the Irish people. It’s a company to which any responsible government or Minister would immediately call a halt. It’s wastiing of taxpayer’s money is truly out of control.”

“Tipperary is an economically viable county, and the Midlands Region has one of only two European deep water ports, the port of Foynes. With sustained investment it can continue to facilitate the largest category of cargo ships. Along with Shannon Airport and the lack of traffic congestion, Tipperary and the Midlands could become a hub of economic activity and commerce.“

“All that is needed is sustained smart investment. Some vision from those Tipperary Ministers and TDs that are supposed to be fighting on Tipperary’s behalf is essential. Instead they toe the usual line of Dublin takes all, Dublin is the priority.”

2015-09-11-IMG_0022-edited
2015-09-11 Councillor Séamie Morris pictured looking over Lough Derg.

“There is expected to be a mere 20 Tipperary jobs from this whole operation. International economists agree and the actions of international conglomerate banks and consortia prove that, ‘water will be to this century what oil was to the last, it will be the most fought over resource of the 21st century.’“

“When this pipeline begins operating, Tipperary will barely gain a pittance. The value of the asset being diverted from Tipperary will over time run into the billions. And what will Tipperary get then? Nothing.”

“There is actually no need to divert this water to Dublin. There are closer water resources to Dublin than Lough Derg. This is just the setting up of a long-term smash and grab operation of Tipperary resources. The real sinkener is that the water is diverted to a storage lake outside Dublin and then by the time it reaches Dublin the water will be privatised!”

“Should the Irish Water scam succeed, our entire ground water asset will be privatised. Lough Derg should be protected as a natural and Tourism asset. But if we can’t force the government to desist from this snake oil scheme then at least Tipperary should get something out of it.”

Sinn Féin Tipperary and I will continue to stand up for Tipperary and fight for a better deal for Tipperary. As your TD in the next Dáil I will be able to make an even bigger impact for Tipperary, it’s about time that they stopped forgetting us and started to invest in us instead!”

Kenny remarks on emigration “ludicrous”

Enda Kenny with former French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny of making ludicrous claims about the reasons for emigration at the MacGill Summer School .

Gerry Adams said: “Despite the Taoiseach’s ludicrous claims this evening, income tax is not the main reason preventing emigrants returning home.

“What has caused so many people to leave this State are the brutal and destructive austerity policies being pursued by Mr Kenny’s Government and his Fianna Fáil predecessors.

“It is the lack of employment opportunities for young people, the fact that ordinary workers are put to the pin of their collar by a range of stealth charges, and the destruction of public services that is preventing emigrants returning. Mr Kenny didn’t propose anything to change this.

“Enda Kenny’s comments that a Government involving Sinn Féin would be a ‘gamble’ are also nonsense.

Enda Kenny.

“He reiterated his intention that if re-elected, he will continue the same political path that has caused so much hardship.

“What citizens need and want is a progressive Government that will stand up for their interests, end relentless austerity, rebuild our economy. That is Sinn Féin’s focus. 

“The Taoiseach should let citizens make the choice now by calling a General Election.”

Gerry Adams.