Now is the time for unity

A Letter From Ireland

a Chara,

We are in the last week of the elections in the south. Sinn Féin is standing a record number of candidates for local government, the EU parliament, and the Mayor of Limerick.

In the last set of these elections in 2019 Sinn Féin was the third party in the Southern state trailing well behind both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael by 20 points.

Within 18 months of the 2020 general election, Sinn Féin emerged as the largest party. The party was excluded from government by a coalition of both parties with the Greens.

Since the 2019 elections, we have had four Taoisigh, a worsening housing crisis with record levels of homelessness, and working families struggling to make the rent with no hope of ever owning a home.

Routinely we have hospitals without beds and staff shortages. While the rate of inflation slows, prices and interest rates remain far higher since this government came to power in 2020.

These issues are failures of government policy over decades. Since the foundation of the State, Fianna Fáil and/or Fine Geal have controlled government. They have dogmatically stuck with policies that created and deepened the crisis.

As the systems creaked to breaking point, Russia invaded Ukraine, displacing over 100,000 to seek temporary protection for the duration of the war in the South of Ireland.

While a lot fewer in number, there has also been an increase in international protection applications by those fleeing other conflicts or prosecution.

The response by the government has been a shambles. Providing tented accommodation, or none, and failing to speedily process cases.

Last weekend Alex Maskey spoke at an event in Montreal at the site of a mass grave where over 6,000 Irish died of illness fleeing from starvation in Ireland. The number of orphaned children overwhelmed the Irish community and state support. The French-speaking Quebecois adopted many of the children as their own, but kept their Irish names to remind them of their history.

An Gorta Mór, the great hunger, was the outworking of British Government policy. It was not a natural disaster. They starved a generation into exile across the US and Canada. Their children remain there today.  

We remember our history where the Irish migrants faced discrimination and attack by nativist movements. The “No Irish Need Apply” brigade. We remember the compassion and generosity of host communities.

The crisis Ireland now faces in housing, health care, and cost of living is not the outworking of a natural disaster. It is not the fault of those genuinely seeking protection any more than it is the fault of the 14,000 homeless living in temporary accommodation.

The fault lies with the successive governments of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael,

Ireland is not full. Our population has not yet recovered from an Gorta Mór. We are a wealthy nation with a strong economy. We have the resources to resolve these issues.

To build homes and a health care system that meets the needs of the sick and injured.

Sinn Féin supports a migration system that is fair, efficient, and enforced. Those entitled to stay should be afforded that right. The rule of law must apply.

The failures of government are compounded by partition. The British government continues to impose its immigration policies on the north of Ireland. Sinn Féin is working to unite Ireland so that the people who share the island have sovereignty over the whole of Ireland.

The Irish people and those seeking shelter in Ireland are being failed by the government.

We remember our history as a nation of emigrants. Now is the time to change. Now is the time for unity.

Have a great weekend.

Is mise,

Ciarán

Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North AmericaEach 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.