Now is our time, now is the time for Irish Unity – Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has called on political leadership to show an ambition that matches the hope of a generation rising up with tenacity to lay claim to our destiny – by preparing for Irish Unity.

In a keynote address delivered at Sinn Féin’s online National Easter Commemoration, she said that a United Ireland presents an exciting opportunity to shape something new, something different and something better than anything that has gone before.

Teachta McDonald added that the grand vision of Pearse and Connolly has been renewed and that, much like the rebels of 1916, our generation too is impatient for change. 

Teachta McDonald’s address reads:

The rebels of 1916 set out to liberate our country from British rule and to shape a nation that would thrive and prosper.

They stepped into the role of change-makers because they believed in the new Ireland, the independent republic so poetically expressed in the proclamation.  

As a generation impatient for change, they knew their time had come. They seized the day.

The legacy of the 1916 rebels bears witness in the Ireland of today. 

The people of this island – in the turbulence of a pandemic – again find ourselves at a crossroads. 

In a time of lives lost and lives disrupted, the failed ways of the old Ireland have been exposed like never before.

And as we look forward together – as we seek change – Irish Unity comes into focus.

A United Ireland presents an exciting opportunity to shape something new, something different, something better than anything that has gone before.

A century on from partition, people wake up every morning and know that the divided Ireland of 2021 doesn’t work for them or their families.

We see the broken politics of partition every day.

People’s entire lives defined by the search for a home they can afford, by the struggle to access treatments when they are sick, working long hours and still not making ends meet, younger people starved of opportunity, and rural towns and villages left behind.

The lack of fairness and inequality is frightening. People want better. They are fed-up with politics from a bygone age that holds them back and stifles their potential. 

The politics that gave us the Magdalene Laundries, industrial schools, mass emigration, fostered by a political class that desperately clings to past and to power.

We recognise that partition is at the root of these failures and we are fired-up with ambition for the future.

We see clearly that the task of bringing about real change for workers and families is linked inextricably to the goal of reunifying our country.

The politics of a new Ireland has come of age. The grand vision of Pearse and Connolly is renewed.

Irish Unity means positive change for us all. Not only is it achievable, it is necessary.

The practical challenges posed by Covid-19 and Brexit make this apparent. 

These crises have reshaped and energised the conversation on a United Ireland.

Unity is being talked about in every corner of our island. This is because Irish Unity makes sense. It’s the very best idea for the future of Ireland.  

A United Ireland is an idea whose time has come. Much like the rebels of 1916, our generation too is impatient for change. 

We refuse to accept the limitations of the past. We know that better is possible and we look with fresh eyes and fresh hearts at the prospect of Irish Unity.  

We are excited and enthusiastic about the new beginning that unity offers our people. 

Éire nua inar féidir lenár dteanga, ár gcultúr agus ár n-oidhreacht bláthú.

No longer will we be constrained by the unambitious dogma of official Ireland that so badly failed our parents and their parents before them.

No longer will we be told  – this far and no further. A new generation is rising up with the hope and tenacity to lay claim to our destiny and to the future of our island.

Those in political leadership must show an ambition that matches this hope.  Nowhere is that more important than in the office of An Taoiseach.

We will not be constrained by old, jaded thinking. Or by those who wish to cast the debate on Irish Unity as an exhausted collision between green and orange or as a friction point between Britishness and Irishness. 

This gets us nowhere. Irish Unity is not the politics of shame or loss. It’s the politics of progress.

The politics of a nation that transcends all the hurt, division and conflict of the past by forging a new future together, for all us.

A people moving forward in the inclusive belief that no matter our backgrounds, no matter our identities, no matter the journey we have travelled to this point – that we can reconcile, that we can heal divisions, that we can lift each other up. 

The things we have in common – the things that bring us together – are far greater than those which divide us.

In Ireland of 2021, the grave mistake and injustice of partition has come full circle. 

Partition has failed and unity is the answer. The winds of change blow all around us. 

It would be unforgivable, to emerge from this pandemic and not seize the opportunity to prepare for unity, for our new Ireland.

We must prepare for a referendum on Irish Unity, for the people to have their say. 

Both governments must prepare for unity. The people must prepare too. 

Caithfimid labhairt faoin todhchaí. Caithfimid ullmhú don todhchaí, le chéile.

When it comes to the future of our country, treading water is not good enough. It never has been. 

Now is the time for real ambition.

Friends, today, we gather online to honour those who gave their lives for Irish freedom and we send solidarity to the families of our patriot dead.

In so doing, we look firmly to the future. The last twelve months have been incredibly difficult for our people. 

However, through the chaos, hardship and pain, we have an exciting opportunity to build something new, something better – a United Ireland.

We can do this. We can be the generation that unites Ireland. We – the people of Ireland – are up to this task.

During this pandemic, you have responded with togetherness, kindness and compassion. 

This is who we are. These are the values of unity. The rebels of 1916 were the change-makers of their day.  

Today, the role of change-maker falls to us. This is our time.

The past was for those who seek to divide. The future is for those of us who seek to unite. 

Those who seek to hold back the tide of change can have yesterday. But tomorrow is ours.

A new and united Ireland is on the horizon. Let’s seize this moment, together.

Ar aghaidh linn le chéile. An Phoblacht Abú!