Mary Lou McDonald addresses Sinn Féin’s annual Easter Rising Commemoration

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD addressed the party’s annual commemoration of the 1916 Rising at Arbour Hill today.

Her full address is below:

A chairde,

Ar Dhomhnach na Cásca, tagann Poblachtánaigh le chéile ar fud na tríocha dó contae chun cuimhneamh ar ár dtírghráthóirí.

Thug siad a mbeatha ar son saoirse na hÉireann.

Seasann siad mar inspioráid bheo dúinn inniu.

Le chéile, d’éiríomar go misniúil don lá amárach, agus déanaimid ár ndícheall aisling dóchasach 1916 a chomhlíonadh. 

Éire aontaithe. Éire a sheasann mar léaró dóchais, cothrom na féinne agus deiseanna do gach uile duine.

The ground on which we stand is sacred. 

The soil of Arbour Hill, the final resting place of the leaders and patriots of the 1916 Rising, the foundation of our dream, Ireland – united and free – taking its rightful place amongst the nations of the world.

The words of the Proclamation echo across history and reverberate powerfully for this generation of Irish Republicans.

In so many ways, the things for which the rebels of the rising fought are the same things for which we strive today – national freedom, democracy, economic and social justice for all.

That is the vision that lights a fire in our hearts, which propels us forward in search of the Republic.

One hundred and eight years ago, ordinary Irish men and women marched out to do the unimaginable, to take on the might of the British Empire, to end Ireland’s centuries-old subjugation, and to establish an Independent Irish Republic.

These noble rebels knew the odds were stacked against them, but their courage, their incredible reservoir of hope, defined that revolutionary generation.

Those who rallied to the ranks of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army believed that the sun of a better tomorrow would only rise with the people of Ireland shaping and deciding their own destiny.

It was this unwavering belief that gave birth to the Republic on the streets of Dublin and inspired the rebels to fight for its survival for six days. 

Mary Lou McDonald full speech at Dublin Easter Rising Commemoration, Arbour Hill

The streets, laneways and buildings touched by rebellion belong to our history.

Arbour Hill is the final resting place of the leaders of the rising.

The terrace at Moore Street was their final meeting place.

It must be protected and restored as the birthright of future generations, to drive exciting regeneration of Dublin’s north inner city, not torn down in the name of profit.

We will never surrender our revolutionary history.

We will keep fighting for Moore Street.

The rebels of 1916 were ordinary people who stepped forward to do extraordinary things.

Their bravery lit a flame of freedom too powerful to confine to the past.

It stands as a living, breathing inspiration for all of us today.

Those who rose-up against British rule were not satisfied with Ireland as it was.

They reached heroically for the Ireland that could be.

They were revolutionaries.

They were cultural revivalists.

They were dreamers and doers.

They were the changemakers of their time and they transformed the course of Irish history.

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Today, the mantle of ‘changemaker’ falls to this generation.

To make change happen in our communities.

To make change happen right across Ireland.

The appetite for real change is driven by ordinary people determined to win a better future.

It is most powerfully reflected by the fact that Michelle O’Neill is now First Minister in the north.

For the first time ever, a nationalist is head of government in a state that was designed to ensure that it could never ever happen.

Michelle pledged to reach beyond the trenches and the hurt of the past, to be a First Minister for all.

Every day she proves herself to be true to her word and we’re rightly proud of Michelle and her team for making politics work every day.

The great beauty of the peace we’ve built together is that we can hold differing and opposing views about the future, about constitutional change, and still work together to make life better for workers and families in the here and now.

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Here in the south, people believe that real change is possible.

Irish republicans are about the task of achieving a new, united Ireland where workers, families and communities come first.

We have never been closer.

So, we shouldn’t be surprised that, as we push for change, there is a push back by those who thrive on division, who seek to distract for their own selfish reasons.

They won’t succeed because the need for change in our communities is undeniable and Sinn Féin is the party that will deliver it.

Today, we are witnessing the rearguard action of the political establishment.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, the parties who have passed power back and forth to each other for over a century, now cling to government at any cost.

They now propose to install their third Taoiseach in four years.

In little over a week, these parties will seek to appoint Simon Harris as head of government without allowing the people to have their say in a General Election.

We face an incredible scenario where Fianna Fáil, who refused to vote confidence in Simon Harris as Health Minister, now prepare to line up, one after the other, to vote him in as Taoiseach.

Likewise, Independent TDs will also line up to make Simon Harris Taoiseach.

So much for their independence as they act to keep this failed government in office.

As they prepare to hand the keys of government buildings to Simon Harris and deny the people the democratic opportunity to have their say, to decide who is in government and to decide who leads that government.

If Simon Harris wants to be Taoiseach, if Micheál Martin and Eamon Ryan really believe that their government commands the support of the public, then they should have no problem putting that to the people in a General Election.

I believe the people not only want a General Election, I believe they would relish an Election and the chance to call time on a government that is tired, out of touch and out of ideas.

It’s time for a new government with energy and determination.

A government of change that will roll-up its sleeves and get the work done to fix housing, sort out health and ensure that young people can build a good life and prosperous future here at home instead of being forced out by the repeated failures of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

We need a government that will finish the business of 1916 and make the promise of the proclamation real in the everyday lives of ordinary people.

Sinn Féin leads the opposition, and we will call out this bad government at every turn.

We are changemakers and we want a government of change.

We want to lead that government of change, a government without Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil for the first time in over one hundred years.

So, our message today is simple – call a general election and let the people decide.

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Community is everything to us in Sinn Féin.

We are a party of activists rooted in our communities, working every day for real improvements in local areas.

We want the best for our communities.

We want people to have the services, quality of life and the responsive local government they deserve.

The work done by local authorities is so important and takes on an even greater importance because of the housing crisis.

Electing as many Sinn Féin Councillors as possible is part of the solution.

This is how we turn the tide of the housing crisis, get families off waiting lists and into homes, deliver our plan to make housing affordable again, and make sure everybody can put a secure roof over their heads.

This the most important local election for a generation.

We are standing a record number of candidates, and make no mistake, we are standing every one of them to win.

Friends, Ireland is an ancient European nation.

We believe in working with our European neighbours to drive positive change, to make real progress, and build a better future.

Ireland’s place is within the European Union, but we also know that the Irish people are best placed to make the decisions that affect them, particularly on issues such as foreign affairs, taxation, and investment in public services. 

We believe passionately in the independence of Ireland’s foreign policy, in defending our military neutrality, in standing up for a Common Agricultural Policy that delivers for family farmers.

For far too long Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have been far too deferential to the European Union.

Sinn Féin is different.

We back policies when they are good for Ireland.

We oppose them when they are not.

We will never rollover on the things that matter to the people of our country.

Our vision is for a European Union that works better for the ordinary people of Ireland and for the ordinary people of Europe.

Sinn Féin MEPs are not afraid to stand up for Ireland.

Lynn Boylan and Daithí Doolan are not afraid to stand up for Ireland.

That is why we must leave it all on the pitch to get them elected to the European Parliament.

On Friday, June 7th everyone will enter their local polling station with a choice.

Choose change.

Come out and vote for change by voting for Sinn Féin.

Back us to deliver real improvements for you, your family, and your community.

Back us to get the job done and we will not let you down.

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The struggle for freedom and peace in Ireland has always connected with freedom struggles throughout the world.

Today, our thoughts are with the people of Gaza who have, over the last seven months, endured genocide.

More than 30,000 Palestinian men, women and children have had their beautiful lives taken in the most brutal way.

Now, Gazans endure famine and the spread of disease.

Israel’s onslaught on Gaza is the gravest human rights violation of our time, broadcast live across television and social media.

For these atrocities, the Israeli government must be held accountable.

We call again on Israel to end its slaughter.

We call for an immediate, full, and permanent ceasefire.

We know from our own history that no conflict is intractable.

Peace is a question of will.

The only thing that will transform this horrific situation is the renewal of a peace process grounded in international law and with the aim of achieving freedom and a Palestinian state.

Today, with the words of our freedom Proclamation beating loudly in our hearts, we say end the war in Gaza, end apartheid, end the occupation.

Ceasefire now.

Free Palestine.

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Our ultimate objective is a united Ireland.

A society of equality in which every person can achieve their aspirations and pursue happiness.

Reunification is the next chapter in the story of Irish nationhood.

I believe that we will have unity referendums in this decade.

Our job is to win these referendums and win them well by reaching out, exceeding expectations, pushing the boundaries, and building alliances.

Uniting Ireland is about building a nation for all our people.

The United Ireland we seek is a true reconciliation between the Orange and the Green, in the spirit of Tone, where everyone who calls Ireland home reaches for a better future side by side.

It’s time for the Irish government to get serious about constitutional change.

It’s time to establish an all-Ireland Citizens’ Assembly to plan for Irish unity.

A new and United Ireland is about everyone, and it is for everyone.

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In his address to his Court Martial following the Easter Rising, Pádraig Pearse said, “We have kept faith with the past, and handed on a tradition to the future.”

We are the inheritors of the hopes so dearly held by the rebels of 1916.

Our generation can be the generation that unites Ireland and delivers the Republic envisaged by the Proclamation.

We look beyond today to a new Ireland for all the children of the nation.

To a coming together of all our people. 

To a republic of equality, fairness, and justice.

That is a future worth believing in, worth working for, worth achieving.

I believe we are closer than ever. The destiny of the Irish nation is on the horizon.

So, let’s leave Arbour Hill today determined to move mountains, to move heaven and earth, to realise the dream for which our gallant patriots gave their lives.

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