A Letter from Ireland
The Navy has shipped out. The Notre Dame leprechaun, his lucky charms intact, has left. That was a weekend and a bit.
On Thursday, over 200 Representatives from forty four States traveled to Parliament Buildings at Stormont, just outside Belfast. There they met with the five largest parties who should make up the Northern Assembly.
The visit was set against a backdrop of one party, the Democratic Unionist Party, blocking government formation and the operation of the legislature. They stand alone.
The DUP tried to justify its position. They explained that they would hold the operation of government and the democratic institutions’ hostage unless the British Government and the EU changed international agreements to meet their demands. Their explanation made little sense to a bipartisan room of lawmakers. n
It was then back to Dublin on Friday. The day started with a seminar on Irish unity from the ARINS project of academics. The seminar was opened by the ever-excellent Rep. Brendan Boyle who detailed the role of the US in achieving and supporting the Good Friday Agreement, peace, and progress in Ireland. n
A quick stop-off for a coffee and a chat with some more visitors, and then onto the Dáil (Irish Parliament) which hosted a meeting between local parties, State Representatives, and a visiting Congressional Delegation led by Senators Murphy and Coons. It was quite a gathering. Fresh from the trip to the North, State Representatives spoke of their hopes that the government would be re-established. Sinn Féin TD, Kathleen Funchion spoke of her connection with the US, holding dual citizenship, and her hopes for the future in a new and united Ireland.
After another coffee and a catch-up with more friends, I called it a day. They departed into the mist of pints and Dublin pubs.
Saturday was game day. Despite the drizzle, the town was alive and buzzing. The whole day was a spectacle and an experience.
Sunday was a trip to Cork to attend the annual Hunger Strike Commemoration with some good friends who were in Dublin for the game. There was a huge turnout and the sun shone. The crowd was made up of greying ex-prisoners, activists from the time, and a new generation inspired by all that came before them. Special mention to the Hartford Connecticut crew who traveled over. The day was a joyous remembrance, an opportunity to meet old friends, and share stories and craic.
Now it is my time to travel. Next week Greg O’Loughlin, the new Friends of Sinn Féin USA Chief Executive, and I will be in Washington and New York for a series of engagements, events, and meetings.
I travel with a renewed sense of optimism. The challenges that we face will pass and opportunities emerge as we navigate our way to a new and united Ireland. The bonds between our nations have endured. We will complete the journey together. n
Have a great long weekend and I hope to see you somewhere along the road.
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.