A week is a long time in politics

A Letter From Ireland

a Chara,

A week is a long time in politics. In the past seven days, we traveled to the US and landed back to fight four elections.

This day last week, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald gave the commencement address at the Westfield State University graduation in Springfield, Massachusetts. For her work in Ireland, Mary Lou was awarded an honorary degree.  

The event was unlike stuffy graduations in Ireland. The vitality and energy of youth was unreserved with plenty of hooting and hollering. It was an incredible celebration of achievement and potential.

Addressing students entering a world in conflict, and with specific reference to the war in Gaza, Mary Lou’s speech challenged those present saying, “I believe that your generation can create a future of equality, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Your generation can change the world. I hope you choose to do just that.”

On the trip, we met with old friends and made new ones. Springfield is the hometown of Representative Richard Neal, the joint chair of the Congressional Friends of Ireland. The Congressman hosted a wonderful  event in the John Boyle O’Reilly Club, drawing supporters from across Springfield, Hartford, Rhode Island, and Boston.

One supporter traveled from Nashville and another from South Carolina. All were welcome. Selfies were taken, books and GAA tops signed, and speeches given.

I am used to meeting Congressman Neal on Capitol Hill, but here he was, at home and amongst his people, celebrating the connections between Ireland and Springfield.

There were Irish emigrants including two former Dublin and Galway players who could not resist recalling their counties’ recent victories over my home county of Antrim.

There were others with links to Ireland spanning generations including State Representative Brian Ashe, a distant relative of the great patriot and Hunger Striker Thomas Ashe.

There were others with no direct link to Ireland, but with a shared interest in equality and Irish unity.

It was a joyous occasion full of hope with a shared commitment to meet the challenges and realize the opportunities to build a new and united Ireland.

Then it was back to Ireland and the election campaign.

On June 7th, voters in the South will elect new County Councillors and Members of the European Parliament. The people of Limerick will go to the polls to select the first directly-elected mayor. Sinn Féin is competing in all three elections with over  340 candidates. We are entering the final two weeks of this campaign.

On Wednesday British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for a Westminster general election to be held on July 4th. As an all-Ireland party, Sinn Féin will run candidates in all 18 Westminster constituencies in the North of Ireland.

The goodwill and encouragement that we received in Springfield and from across the US will fuel us through the next six weeks and four election campaigns. We hope to increase Sinn Féin’s vote and representation in all the campaigns. We could also see the end of this disastrous and devious British Government.

Have a great weekend

Is mise,

Ciarán

Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North America. Each week he writes a letter from Ireland with news and analysis. It is featured in the weekly Friends of Sinn Féin USA Newsletter. Be sure you are subscribed to stay up to date.