Pearse Doherty TD Full speech at Derry City Easter Sunday commemoration

Táim fíor-bhródúil a bheith anseo i nDoire agus muid ag céiliúradh Éirí amach na Casca 1916. Is cúis bhróid ollmhór é domsa a bheith anseo mar phoblachtach agus gabhaimse mo bhuíochas leis na laochra a throid ar son na saoirse. Táim bródúil chomh maith as ucht na cairde agus na comrádaithe atá againn sa chathair seo.

First and foremost Easter for Republicans is about remembering our heroes from the generation that first fought the British Empire and every generation that did so since.

Today we we remember them and pay tribute to each and every one of them you gave their lives in the pursuit of Irish Freedom for the courage and determination.

I am mindful that this year also marks the 45th anniversary of Volunteers Joe Walker and the 40th anniversary of volunteers Pat Harkin, Dennis Heaney and Patsy Duffy.

In Derry this year, I would like to acknowledge that recently, almost 48 years after her husband Óglach Joe Coyle was killed on active service, Joan Coyle passed away. On behalf of republicans everywhere I extend our condolences to her family who are here today.

This year marks the centenary of the 1918 general election, an election in which the vast majority of citizens turned their backs on Westminster and voted for Irish Republicans. That election was called the Sinn Féin election. The MPs elected refused to go to Westminster and established the First Dáil. These included the first woman elected, Constance Markievicz.

Since we gathered here last year this city has elected a Sinn Féin MP who like Constance Markievicz is a proud republican abstentionist.  Elisha Mc Callion serves all the people of Derry and stands with them in the face of British austerity and bigotry wherever it comes from.

I want to congratulate the Sinn Féin team and in particular Elisha for her achievement in that election and her trojan work since.

In 1918, Ireland was changing. That change was led by a revolutionary generation. A generation of Gaels, of socialists, feminists and nationalists that found common cause in ending the union, in Irish sovereignty, equality and freedom.

Fifty years on, in 1968, Ireland was changing too and Derry was at the forefront of that change.

The Civil Rights movement which came of age in this city was a demand for change, a demand for rights. As our Tv screens are this weekend filled with scenes innocent protesters been gunned down by an occupying army we are minded of the events that unfolded on the streets of this city on Bloody Sunday.

From this city today we send our condolences to the Palestinian people, we stand with them in solidarity and demand action from world leaders. We call on our Taoiseach to expel the Israeli ambassador and to recognise that state of Palestine as the Dáil has mandated his Government to do.

Today 50 years on from the civil rights movement the nationalist community are demanding their rights demanding change, demanding respect. By electing Elisha the people of Derry sent a clear and loud message there is no going back.

This generation like our parents do not accept discrimination, do not accept second class citizenship and will not accept new attempts at Gerrymandering.

We proudly assert our nationality in Derry, Belfast, Cork and Donegal. We proudly assert our Irishness, speak our language, play our games and vote for change.

We do not apologise for that nor do we do it to threaten anybody else.

Republicanism respects other traditions, other cultures and insists that there is room for all in this country.

A Changing Ireland

Like 1918 and 1968 Ireland is again at a point of great change in 2018. The orange state is gone. The perpetual unionist majority in the north has ended.

The forces of conservative Ireland no longer enjoy the unquestioning support of citizens. The old orange and green is now part of a rainbow of colours and identities. A new Ireland is emerging.

Change brings challenges. It challenges republicans as much as anybody else. Socially and economically our country has completely changed from twenty years ago.

In another twenty years it will have totally changed again. Change is coming and we as revolutionaries welcome change.

We must represent the Ireland we have today and the Ireland we want to have. Wishing for the Ireland of the past or pretending we can skip to some sort of perfect Republic is not how we win the support of the Irish people.

Technology and innovation has completely changed how we live our lives, how we work, how we play, how we travel and how we engage in politics. Republicanism and Sinn Fein must be fit for the 21st Century in our ideas and in how we go about our politics.

We are a changing party, a growing party. A new leadership is building on the legacy and work of all those who came before.  We are building on the work of great people , Gerry Adams, Máire Drumm, Martin McGuinness and others.

Martin loved Ireland and he loved Derry. Martin knew Ireland and he knew Derry. He lived in the real world and so must we.

He knew that radical politics was not just slogans and meetings. He knew that for his city and his country to be free required struggle, commitment and hard work. It required new thinking and adaptation. Above all he knew it meant people playing their part.

Republicanism needs active, committed members playing their part every day to bring about change that is republican change and I appeal for all of you present just as Martin asked me 26 years ago at free Derry corner  to play your part if you have not yet done so and Join Sinn Féin.

A New and United Ireland.

This generation of republicans will end the union, will end partition and will build a new and united Ireland.

A new, modern and united Ireland, must be about more than adding the north to the south. It is not a 32 county free state. It is a new republic. The republic of Tone and Connolly, Markievicz and Farrell, Sands and McGuinness.

An Ireland of prosperity and opportunity

We want an Ireland of equal rights in which everyone has a place.

An Ireland that provides jobs, homes and health care for its citizens.

An Ireland that promises security of a roof over your head and fair pay for a fair day’s work.

An Ireland where no family lives in fear of the knock on door from a landlord, an unexpected car breakdown or illness, Where no one has to choose between heating a home or feeding a family.

They are not dreams , they are achievable goals that together we can deliver.

Those things cannot be brought about by more of the same. Earlier this week both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste, the two most senior politicians in the south, told me to stop playing politics with the 10,000 homeless people, the 3,700 homeless children in the South…

I told them it is a political problem and it is caused by their policies. In the same way that poverty is a political problem and inequality is a political problem.

We are not all on the same side- we are not on the same side as the Tories, whether they be English or Irish. We reject their policies.

Their politics are about maintaining the status quo, about resisting change, about minimising rights and reducing politics to a game of spin and soundbites so that ordinary working people turn off and stop believing that politics can bring about change.

They want to normalise food banks, homelessness, poverty and exclusion. We want to end them.

Delivering Irish Unity is the key to building a new Ireland- a United Ireland is the most radical objective there is in Irish politics.

It is the opportunity to build anew. Irish and British Toryism in Ireland can be defeated in a united Ireland.

We know that is the goal before us. That is the context in which equality, peace and prosperity will be achieved.

Challenges ahead.

Our opponents will try and frustrate change, to demonise republicans.

Some of them are seeking to impose Brexit and EU frontier across our island. The Irish people reject Brexit and this is our country.

Our opponents tell our gay brothers and sisters that their love is somehow less than somebody else’s.

Our opponents tell us as Irish speakers that our own language is not to be tolerated in our own country.

They don’t care about our citizens, our rights or our economy.

Some of our opponents are now are attacking the Good Friday Agreement. An Agreement that belongs to the people of all Ireland and not the Tories in London.

We face many challenges and many opponents. Fundamentally our opponents are all the same- they are about stopping republicanism and about limiting change. Our job is to ensure they do not suceed.

Our immediate job is to win the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment from the constitution in the South.

The 8th amendment is a threat to women’s health and lives. It must be repealed.

Our job is to prepare for and win the coming elections by offering the Irish people, north and south, an alternative to permanent austerity and a vision for unity.

Our job is to secure special status for the North within the EU and to meet the challenges of Brexit.

Who else is championing this cause more than Derry’s own Martina Anderson?  Her influence across Europe in keeping Ireland on the Brexit agenda has been immense.

Our job is to win to secure and win a referendum on Irish unity.

That is the will of the Irish people. We know how it can come about. By convincing a progressive people that unity will bring fairness, respect and prosperity a referendum, north and south, can be won and won soon.

Sinn Féin is committed to seeing the institutions re-established in the North, We are committed to securing the right of citizens to marriage equality, to language rights and dealing with legacy issues.

We came close to this recently however the DUP walked away from the agreement we reached and collapsed the talks.

Both governments now must convene the British -Irish Intergovernmental conference and begin the process of delivering on outstanding commitments and agreements.

There is no going back on what has been agreed. What is won is won for all.

Our job is to promote the cause of reconciliation and unity.

Our opponents will try to frustrate republican change, but we cannot allow them to succeed, the stakes are too high.

The Challenges are great but so are we. We must mobilise people and organise for change.

Now is the time to build a new Ireland; a country that will

honour its patriot dead, a nation for all, equal and sovereign.

Until that ideal is achieved comrades our struggle continues.

It continues until we have created an Ireland in which justice, equality and respect rein true.

It continues until we have an Ireland in which the principles

and core teachings of the Proclamation are not just simply

revered but are a reality.

And it continues until we have an Ireland in which all our

citizens, as children of the nation, are cherished equally.

Ultimately, our struggle and the struggle of the men and women from this city who stood up and rebelled, continues until the Ireland which our patriot dead envisaged is made real – One Ireland united, indivisible,

destined to be free…