Sinn Fein Councillor Lisa Marie Sheehy gave the oration at Sundays annual commemoration of Seán Treacy, in Kilfeacle, Co. Tipperary. During her address she compared the heroic deeds of one her own age, with the goings-on of the present-day Irish state.
Finding common cause with Seán Treacy’s age and background, she highlighted some of the policies of the Irish state which discriminate against the young. In particular she drew attention to the state policy of reduced unemployment benefit on grounds of age.
(Cllr Lisa Marie Sheehy (Limerick Co. Co.), delivering oration at Annual Seán Treacy Commemoration, Kilfeacle, Co. Tipperary)
As she explained that this policy was ageist, she also pointed out that it’s net effect had been to increase emigration as those that could leave, did leave. To combat this Sinn Féin is fighting for the restoration of full benefits for young people.
She continued, “The man we are commemorating here today fought for an Irish nation free from England, and for a nation that would cherish each of it’s children equally”.
As she went on to explain that, “Seán never got the chance to contribute to building that nation”, she was very clear: the nation he envisaged has not yet been built.
To this end, Sinn Féin last week introduced a Dáil bill proposing that the voting age for most elections should be lowered to 16. Introduced by Brian Stanley TD, the bill would open the opportunity to vote to younger citizens. Viewing the positive participation of 16 year-olds in the recent Scottish referendum, this bill is very timely.
Cllr Sheehy called for a referendum on this matter “as soon as possible” – a call that will undoubtedly upset the conservative parties of Labour, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. The Constitutional Convention recommended this change, but the Government has yet to act on it.
Standing by the grave of Volunteer Treacy, at which Cllr Martin Browne of Cashel had only moments before laid a commemorative wreath, Lisa Marie expressed the view that Seán had compressed much into his 25 short years, including participation in the start of the war of independence.
Looking over the gathering at the well-attended event in Kilfeacle, Lisa Marie sought to answer the question of “what the person being commemorated would think of our country today”?
She reasoned that “going by his age, and his being from rural Ireland, if he was to comment now on our society it would be from a Skype camera in Canada or Australia, or from some other place in the world.
“The seeds and buds of young Irish people have been set, but are pushed to blooming elsewhere.
“We must reverse this. We NEED to reverse this, because the future of our country depends on young people.”
Cllr Martin Browne lays wreath at the grave of Seán Treacy, Kilfeacle, Co. Tipperary.