The Ard Fheis was hosted this month in the Technological University of Shannon Campus in Athlone, County Westmeath. Party leadership set out the type of change that a Sinn Féin government will deliver if the people give us that opportunity in the next election. The theme of the Ard Fheis was all about the future, hope and opportunity. During Uachtáran Mary Lou McDonald’s main address, the party president set out her plan to build a better, fairer country for all, for positive change and transformation.

Speaking on Irish Unity and building a new Ireland Mary Lou said, “Ireland has known war. Today, we know peace. But it wasn’t inevitable. Twenty-five years ago, brave peacemakers reached beyond the trenches of the past. They delivered peace. The Good Friday Agreement stands as testament that even the most intractable of conflicts can be resolved. That generation wrote Ireland’s chapter of peace. Now, our generation must write the chapter of unity. To build a new Ireland.

“Government must plan for democratic constitutional change. That means a Citizens’ Assembly on unity. The day is coming when everyone on this island will have their say in referendums. Each vote counted equally, no vetoes, no shifting of the goal posts. Momentum is building, the conversation is live, history is happening now. Irish Unity is the very best opportunity for the future. In the words of Rita O’Hare, ‘We must keep going. A United Ireland lies ahead’

“Right across Ireland, it’s time for change. Change is essential to drive progress, to meet the big challenges, to embrace the big opportunities. We want to make change real in the lives of ordinary people.

“Love of home is what defines us. From those who fled famine and persecution, to the generations who left in search of work, to our young people today who seek opportunity across the globe.

“Our special affinity with home binds us together. Home is where you are loved, secure, encouraged to reach your full potential. Home is where you belong.

“We want to build a new Ireland. A nation home for all. A unified nation of confidence and compassion, talent and ingenuity, claiming our future, our rightful place among the nations of the world.

“A new Ireland.

“The Orange and Green reconciled.

“No place for racism, Islamophobia, Antisemitism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or sectarianism.

“Where there is no them, only us.

“All of us who call Ireland home.”