Monumental reflections

A Letter from Ireland

a Chara,

Well, I made it back to Ireland and back to my own bed. I want to thank all those who took the time to meet. On this trip, I met with old friends and made new ones.

I am home re-energized. Before heading to the airport, I participated in the New York leg of the Martin McGuinness Peace Foundation Walk.

Martin always said that he loved New York. The buzz of the city, the constant movement, and most of all the people. He would talk to everyone, listening to their stories, their connections to Ireland or other lands, their families, and their hopes and histories. Our schedules would go to the wall as he stopped to chat.

He would have loved the walk along the river on Sunday. It was a great occasion to walk and talk surrounded by Derry jerseys.

The walk started and ended at the Irish Famine Monument. It was my first time to visit and experience it, and it is an experience. Set among the high-rises is a famine-era cottage raised on a stone base. You walk through, listening to familiar voices and shared stories to emerge into an Irish meadow. The stone walls, the wild plants, and the smells are from home. The silence makes for a place for reflection. Like a ghost whisper of an Irish accent in the throng of Manhattan.

A short walk away are the monuments to the Twin Towers. Huge voids in the ground with constant fountains, like tears, falling into deeper wells. The names of the dead surround the monument. Many would have been at home in the Irish famine monument.

We may be separated by an ocean but our nations are linked by generations over decades. We share songs, tunes, stories, and histories. We endure and we carry on in hope. These monuments are about loss, but they are also a reminder that we owe it to each other to do better.

A new generation is now emigrating, not from poverty and hunger, but from a loss of hope. They are working, but they see no hope of a making home in Ireland. Priced out of renting, never mind owning a house.

Leaving by choice is a luxury; being forced out is a failure of government. The housing crisis in Ireland, like the “famine” or the economic downturns of the 1980’s and the 2010’s, is not a natural disaster. It is the outcome of years of government policy. n

It is likely that by the end of next year a new government will be elected in the Dáil. I believe that only a Sinn Féin government in Dublin can end the housing crisis and progress a new and united Ireland.

That is why I’m home, re-energized.

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.nn