Speaking in the Round Room of the Mansion House today where Sinn Féin commemorated the first meeting of An Céad Dáil Éireann party leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Sinn Féin leadership of 2019 is as determined to achieve the objectives of the First Dáil as those who gathered in this place one hundred years ago.Deputy McDonald said partition had created two conservative states and economies, controlled and run in the interests of privileged elites, north and south.She said Sinn Féin is focussed on becoming the biggest party on this island, acting as the major catalyst for political, economic and social progress and achieving a United Ireland.“We will serve at the pleasure of the Irish people and not at the discretion of Micheál Martin or Leo Varadkar. “We will enter government on the terms of the Irish people and to deliver a united and new Ireland of the people and for the people.” Full text of Teachta McDonald’s address to today’s event:Dia dhaoibh go léir a chairde.Táim lán-sásta bheith libh anseo um thráthóna ar an ócáid stairiúil seo – comóradh céad bliain an Chéad Dáil… agus tá sé iontach scaifte mór a fheiceáil anseo inniu.Friends, one hundred years ago – in this very room – Revolutionary Ireland found its voice.Three years after the Easter Rising in April 1916, the British believed they had silenced Irish Republicanism. They banished us, imprisoned us and bereaved us. But still the people spoke. Ordinary people were abandoned to tenements and left at the mercy of the landlord class.Healthcare was on the basis of ability to pay and TB was rife. Workers had no rights. Brutalised and abused by their bosses. Dublin was deemed the second city of the Empire – an Empire on which the sun never set.The people of this city gave the empire an answer. The election of 1918 saw Republicans win seventy-three of one hundred and five available seats on this island. The Irish people had declared for a united, independent Ireland and an egalitarian Republic.For the first time, working class men and some women were entitled to vote and they voted for Sinn Féin. Constance Markievicz became Ireland’s and Europe’s first female cabinet Minister.
Republican TDs abstained from the British Parliament and established an all-Ireland parliament – Dáil Éireann.The members of the Dáil declared independence, seeking international recognition of the Irish Republic.When Cathal Brugha, read to this hall: “Delegates, you understand from what is asserted in this declaration that we are now done with England. Let the world know it and those who are concerned bear it in mind.”It was not only about breaking the link with England. It was about building a new and equal Ireland. The First Dáil issued to the Irish people, and to the world, a progressive and egalitarian vision of what the new Irish Republic should look like.The Democratic Programme declared that:the Nation’s sovereignty extends not only to all men and women of the Nation, but to all its material possessions, the Nation’s soil and all its resources, all the wealth and all the wealth-producing processes within the Nation, and … that all right to private property must be subordinated to the public right and welfare.”Those words outlined a truly revolutionary Ireland governed by and for the Irish people – an inclusive Republic of equal citizens.The Democratic Programme outlined how the resources of this country should come under democratic control and be used for the benefit of all the people of the island.The principles of the Democratic Programme have never been implemented nor made a reality for the people of this island.Instead, the revolutionary First Dáil was forced underground and the Irish people were subjected to the terror of the Black and Tans, the Civil War, counter revolution and partition.Partition not only divided our island and our people. It created two conservative States and economies, controlled and run in the interests of privileged elites, north and south.A minority prospered, and masses of citizens were abandoned to emigration, repression and conflict. Partition divided the national movement from the labour movement, the women’s movement and other social movements. It fractured Irish society in multiple ways.James Connolly called it right when he predicted that partition would lead to “a carnival of reaction” on this island.That is what unfolded, in place of the genuine Republican vision of the First Dáil.As we mark various centenaries over the coming years, we need an honest appraisal of the reactionary nature of the two States that emerged on this island, and how that continues to impact on the people of Ireland today.Inequality was at the heart of the two partitionist States and we continue to live with that legacy. Workers’ remain vulnerable .It may no longer be heavy industry, but we have shops and offices and call centres. The power is now back in the hands of the new bosses. Where once a job was a route out of poverty, that is no longer the case. In this state, where once we were secure that our children would find a home, we now have children reared in hotels rooms.The landlord class once again has the whip hand on tenants and are rewarded with tax concessions. We have an two-tier health system .And the rights of citizens in north continue to be undermined. It is time once again to take inspiration from those who broke away from Britain and established the First Dáil. They looked beyond the here and now. They looked to the future. We don’t have to accept the system as it is.In 2019 we don’t have to accept a housing system that is so flawed that children have nowhere to call home. We don’t have to accept disgraceful scenes of masked thugs dragging people out of their homes at the demand of banks and vulture funds.We don’t have to accept an economic system that is increasingly unequal and precarious.We don’t have to accept an unequal and unfair distribution of wealth and power.We don’t have to accept the artificial divisions sown between Irish people by those who imposed partition to protect their own power and interests. These are not ordinated by a divinity or the laws of nature. These are the consequences, the deliberate and predictable consequences of the policies of successive governments. What the revolutionaries who set up the first Dáil tell us is that we can change the system.A better way is possible. Things can be different but WE have to make it happen. A United Ireland is possible.The border which continues to divide our island and our people is becoming ever less tenable in the face of national and international events.Brexit, along with the other political and societal changes taking place, will continue to drive events towards the logic of Irish unity.We now have a historic opportunity to build a United Ireland by peaceful, democratic means.We need to outline the type of United Ireland we seek.I reiterate and restate the words of James Connolly:“If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the Green Flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic, your efforts would be in vain”.The policies of Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar are no different from the Tories in Westminster – starve the public sector of funds, hand control of housing and health to the private sector and a race to the bottom for workers’ rights and divide the people.We have recently witnessed major milestones in moving towards a more tolerant society.We have progressed in delivering equality for women and LGBT+ citizens. But much more needs to be done. Sinn Féin stands for a broader and deeper equality. We seek economic equality where the economy serves the needs of people, not the other way around.So, what I want to see in 2019 is the burden of insecurity lifted from people who are struggling to make ends meet.Low and middle-income workers need a pay rise in 2019.Let us honour the legacy of James Connolly by delivering stronger rights for trade unions to negotiate better pay and conditions for workers.Let us build a genuine people’s campaign for a United Ireland based on progressive demands for a better and fairer society for all.We have an opportunity during this time of political, constitutional and social transition to fix the broken, two-state system and eradicate the social and economic ills that it has created. With the support of the people we have ensured that the Orange State is gone and it’s not coming back.And with the support of the people we will ensure that the failed, two-and-a-half party system in this State will go also.Some combination of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil have ruled this State since partition.They have normalised inequality and they believe poverty is inevitable They believe that there is an acceptable level of homelessness. And they continue to tell us, one hundred years on that now is not the time to talk about unity.
Sinn Féin has no interest in assisting these parties in perpetuating this corrupt system. We have no interest in making up the numbers or sitting on the sidelines.
Sinn Féin will enter government to deliver real and revolutionary change. That means implementing a massive public housing programme to end the scandalous housing and homeless crisis.It means ending the situation where banks and vulture funds make huge profits in this country while evicting families from their homes.It means completely overhauling our archaic health system and putting the interests of patients, regardless of where they live or how wealthy they are, above the profiteering interests of private corporations.It means pursuing vigorously the democratic imperative of a United Ireland.GAEILGEIs trí Ghaeilge a ritheadh imeachtaí na Chéad Dála céad bliain ó shin.Tharla sé seo mar gur bhain chéad chruinniú na Dála le níos mó ná Stát a bhunú – bhain sé leis an Náisiún.Uirlis pholaitiúil leis an náisiún a chur chun cinn a bhí i Sinn Féin.Chuaigh sé i bhfeidhm ar i bhfad níos mó ná a ballraíocht féin.Bhí forbairt ag teacht thar ghluaiseacht na gceardchumann agus ar ghluaiseacht chearta na mban ag an am sin.Seo tréimhse athbheochan litríochta na hÉireann…Agus as seo a tháinig Amharclann an Mainistreach chun chin; mar aon le saothar W B Yeats, J M Synge agus eile.Scríobhadh litríocht nua i nGaeilge.Bhí An Cumann Lúthchleas Gael agus Conradh na Gaeilge ar thús cadhnaíochta maidir le slánú agus caomhnú an Gaeilge.Agus céad bliain ar aghaidh, tá an Ghaeilge faoi bhagairt fós.Tá rialtas sa Stát seo a dhiúltaíonn do phobail an Ghaeltacht an tacaíocht agus an infheistíocht a chur ar fáil chun ár Ghaeltachtaí a fhorbairt.Agus níl ag éirí leis an rialtas níos mó daoine a spreagadh chun Gaeilge a úsáid ina saol.Braitheann phobal an Gaeilge sna Sé Chontae an bhagairt chéanna nuair a dhiúltaítear dóibh a gcearta.Malairt scéil a bheidh ann le Sinn Féin.Tacaíonn muid go hiomlán le cearta phobal na Gaeilge. Tacaíocht anois!Acht anois!The political establishment considers Sinn Féin to be ‘outsiders’ and we wear that as a badge of honour. We will serve neither King, nor Keiser, nor corporation. We will never swear an oath to a foreign power. We are in nobody’s pocket.We stand by the people of Ireland. And this party will be in government with the support of the people. We will serve at the pleasure of the Irish people and not at the discretion of Micheál Martin or Leo Varadkar. We will enter government on the terms of the Irish people and to deliver a united and new Ireland of the people and for the people. Our focus now is on building Sinn Féin to be the biggest party on this island, acting as the major catalyst for political, economic and social progress and with the ability to lead a radical Republican government.And let me be very clear here today that the Sinn Féin leadership of 2019 is as determined to achieve the objectives of the First Dáil as those who gathered in this place one hundred years ago.I feel privileged to stand here, in this hallowed place, as leader of Sinn Féin. We face many challenges ahead as we write the final chapter in Irish Unity. Our long walk to freedom continues.
As Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it is done”It will not be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. We remain true to ourselves and each other.We remain true to our ideals.It will take courage and patience. It will take generosity and hard work. We must dare to win, we must plan to win and we must act to win. And let me tell you we will win. We will have a new and united Ireland. We will return to this place and we will remember all those who came before and we will celebrate an Irish Republic of equal citizens. Go raibh maith agaibh a chairde.Ar aghaidh linn le chéile!