Mary Lou McDonald addresses Sinn Féin’s annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration at Bodenstown

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD addressed the party’s annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration at Bodenstown on Sunday, June 23, 2024.

Ms McDonald said that Tone sought not only to motivate his own generation to unite in the name of Ireland’s independence, but also to inspire patriots in the generations to follow.

She said that the future Sinn Féin seeks is the achievement of the Republic, a nation home for all.

She said that Irish republicans have never been and will never be part of the self-serving political cosy club, and that Sinn Féin activists are the vanguard of achieving real change in Ireland.

She said that Sinn Féin’s priorities are rooted in values as Irish republicans and as an all-Ireland party – values that will never change.

She added: “My message to people is simple. Sinn Féin has heard you. I have heard you. We will now work even harder to deliver the Ireland you deserve.”

Her full address is below:

“To subvert the tyranny of our execrable government, to break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils, and to assert the independence of my country – these were my objects.

“To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter – these were my means.”

A chairde,

These words written by Theobald Wolfe Tone more than two hundred years ago have stood the test of time.

Tone’s words, the underpinning principles of Irish Republicanism, have reverberated down the centuries, inspiring each generation who have pursued the cause of Irish freedom, equality, and unity.

Principles set out at a time when egalitarian revolutionary zeal and enlightenment were reshaping the world.

Tone sought not only to motivate his own generation to unite in the name of Ireland’s independence, but also to inspire patriots in the generations to follow.

It’s a clarion call which inspired the 1798 rebellion of the United Irishmen and which choruses through those parchments charting our nation’s uprising against British rule.

It flows through the Fenian Proclamation of 1867, the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, and the 1919 Democratic Programme of the First Dáil.

We see it too in the words written by Bobby Sands as he lay imprisoned and brutalised in a H-Block Cell.

“The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom. It is then that we will see the rising of the moon.”

Tone’s clarion call was heard and embraced again and again. 

One fight for independence, across many generations. 

An unbroken chain of struggle to uphold Ireland’s ancient right to nationhood and the right of the people of Ireland to equality, dignity, and control of our own destiny. 

Every year in June, we make this pilgrimage to Bodenstown. 

To stand near Tone’s graveside not only to recall history, but to recommit ourselves to the future we seek to shape together. 

Our mission remains the realisation of Tone’s dream.

Standing in this place in 1996, our dear departed comrade, Rita O’Hare said it plainly and I repeat her words to you today:

“…let us say loudly and clearly that we are Irish republicans. We are out to break the connection with England as Tone was. Like Tone, we seek to unite the people of Ireland. And with Wolfe Tone, we assert the independence of our country.”

That is our raison d’etre. 

The next length of this fateful journey falls to us – this generation of republican activists. 

We are the generation that will achieve referendums on the reunification of Ireland.

We must be about the work of persuading, of convincing, of winning ever more hearts and minds.

To win the referendums and win them well, we must build alliances, and broaden an inclusive campaign right across society.

To unite not only our country, but to unite our people.

The future we seek is the achievement of the Republic, a nation home for all.

With optimism, hope, and determination, we seek to transform Ireland to a place where opportunity and prosperity are truly open to every worker, every family, and every community. 

Where poverty, disadvantage, and exclusion are confronted with real leadership.

Irish republicans have never been and will never be part of the self-serving political cosy club.

The club that has run Ireland for over a century.

The club that has governed on behalf of the vested interests, for the golden circles and for those at the top. 

The club that now clings together to hold onto power for the sake of power.

This is the broken politics that has stifled the potential of generations and continues to fail workers and families.

We say enough of that.

We want to create a new Ireland in which ordinary people come first, always.

Our priorities are rooted in our values as Irish republicans and as an all-Ireland party. 

Values that will never change.

We are for an end to partition.

We are out to achieve the planned, peaceful, and democratic reunification of our country in our time.

We are for equality.

We are out to create an Ireland free of racism, discrimination, sectarianism, and bigotry, free of second-class citizenship.

We are for reconciliation.

We seek to build on the historic success of the Good Friday Agreement by reaching out the hand of friendship every day to those of a Unionist tradition. 

To acknowledge hurt, to break down barriers, to build fraternity so that children from all communities can have the future they deserve together.

We are for economic justice and for workers’ rights. 

We are out to create a society that is fair, equal, and prosperous for ordinary workers and families right across Ireland.

We are anti-imperialist. 

We are for self-determination, justice, and international solidarity in the name of human dignity.

We will always support the Palestinians in their struggle for freedom and against the injustices of occupation, oppression, and apartheid. 

As the people of Gaza endure the horror of genocide, we once again call on Israel to end the slaughter. We call for a full and immediate ceasefire and demand that the international community holds Israel to account for these barbaric war crimes.

United Irelanders. 

Left republicans. 

Anti-imperialist.

Anti-racist. 

Internationalist. 

Proud Irishmen and Irishwomen who believe passionately in better tomorrow.

This is who we are. 

Today. 

Tomorrow.

Forever.

Never be in any doubt that Sinn Féin activists are the vanguard of achieving real change in Ireland. 

Republicans make change happen. 

Resistance to British occupation, 

the transformational peace process, 

the historic achievement of the Good Friday Agreement, 

the ending of the sectarian orange state, 

the ending of Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael political dominance in the south

 – this is the legacy of political change that Irish republicans have helped to create.

Today, in a state that was designed to ensure it could never ever happen, our friend Michelle O’Neill leads the government as First Minister for all.

The cynics and the doubters told us it couldn’t be done.

Yet Irish republicans proved again that nothing is impossible.

You made it happen by believing, by not giving up, by sticking to the task no matter what.

****

A chairde, we need this belief, tenacity and resolve now more than ever.

We know political struggle isn’t easy.

Politics like life has its ups and its downs. 

Things don’t always go the way you want.

Irish republicans are used to the hard road.

This is a party built on incredible sacrifice and on that enormous reservoir of courage, resilience, and hope that sees us through the tough times.

We had a knock at the recent local elections. 

I want to thank every Sinn Féin candidate, every activist who worked so hard on our campaigns.

I know how much you gave, the huge effort you made.

Always be proud of your activism. It means everything.

The result didn’t match the scale of our ambitions.

But it’s how we respond to setbacks that determines the future.

Irish republicans have always come back stronger. 

We’ve always come back united.

We will come back now with determination and belief.

We’re often at our best when our backs are to the wall, when the going gets tough and when our political opponents write us off with glee.

Let them. 

The match is not over. 

The story is not finished.

They’ve not reckoned with our strength, our resilience, our togetherness.

It’s our togetherness that sets us apart.

It’s our togetherness that drives us forward. 

It’s our togetherness that ensures that we are here to stay.

And we don’t have a moment to waste.

Hundreds of thousands of people across Ireland vote for Sinn Féin. 

They believe in us, they have put their faith in us, they want us to stand up for their rights, for their future, for a better, fairer Ireland. 

We cannot and we will not let them down.

Our job now is to dust ourselves off.

To go back out and deliver for those who know that change is possible. 

The next general election is coming, and it will come down to a clear choice.

More crises, more failure, more of the same under Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael,

Or a government for real change led by Sinn Féin.

We will approach this election with real purpose, confidence, and energy.

My message to people is simple. 

Sinn Féin has heard you. I have heard you.

We will now work even harder to deliver the Ireland you deserve. 

An Ireland where life is affordable, where everybody has the right to a home, to public healthcare when you need it, to an accessible and equal education, to a job that delivers a decent living and where you can retire at sixty-five with your pension, and where our young people can achieve their ambitions, and build a good future at home instead of being forced to emigrate.

A society and a nation that has the backs of ordinary people. 

The next opportunity to advance our vision of a new Ireland is happening now.

In the north, the Westminster Election is underway. 

This election is about the future, about hope, about optimism.

Sinn Féin will continue to confront Tory cuts and austerity.

We will continue championing investment in public services, and standing up for ordinary 
workers, families, and communities.

A vote for Sinn Féin on July the 4th, is a vote for strong leadership, positive change, and a commitment to work for all. 

So, it’s all-hands-on deck, all shoulders to the wheel once again, Shinners back at it, standing up for ordinary people right across Ireland.

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Inniu, anseo i Reilig Bhaile Ui Bhuadain, tá gairm Wolfe Tone le cloisteáil go soiléir.

Caithfimid muinín a bheith againn ionainn féin agus muinin a bheith againn inár ngluaiseacht i dtreo Poblachta nua.

An todhcaí an rud is tábhachtai dúinne mar Phoblachtánaigh. D’fhoghlaimiomar sin ó Tone.

Ní éasca an rud an streachailt pholaitiúil. Bionn thuas seal agus thios seal.

Ach nuair a bhionn an spéir dorcha, an rud is tábhachtaí ná oibriú níos déine fós.

Smaoinigh a chairde. Agus é dorcha, táimíd níos cóngarai fós d’éiri na gealaí.

‘Sé ár ndualgas é leanúint ar aghaidh – ar son teaghlach, ar son daoine faoi chois, ar son pobail ar fud na tire – chun an aidhm stairiúil sin a bhaint amach…
Eire Aontaithe, Eire Shaor, agus Eire a sheasann an fód don ghnáthdhuine

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Here we stand together on this sacred ground, and with one voice we say, we will not stop, we will not rest, and we will not give up until we have achieved the republic of Tone and Emmet, of Connolly and Markievicz, of Sands and Farrell, of McGuinness and O’Hare.

We will take the good days, we will take the hard days, and will embrace them as fuel for the road we have yet to walk. 

As we move forward, we move forward in hope and in confidence. 

We look beyond today and towards the type of Ireland we’re creating for all our children.

The things that republicans fought for in every generation, and the very same things we’re working for today.

An Ireland worthy of Tone’s clarion call and of all those who gave their lives to achieve it.

Together, we will build a republic of equality, fairness, and justice.

A republic of prosperity and opportunity for all.

A United Ireland that finally takes its rightful place amongst the nations of the world. 

That remains the goal.

So, take heart.

The struggle goes on.

Don’t ever give up. 

Don’t ever give in. 

The night is darkest just before the dawn.

So, together, we go on.

Together, we will overcome and achieve.

Together, we will see the rising of the moon – for our people, for the republic, for Ireland.

Go raibh mile maith agaibh agus an Phoblacht abú.