Easter 2017: Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald's Derry oration in full

Táim fíor-bhródúil a bheith anseo i nDoire agus muid ag céiliúradh Éirí amach na Casca 1916.

Sunday, 16th April 2017, 3:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 7:06 pm

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.

Easter is a very special time for Irish Republicans. It is a time to remember, commemorate and celebrate the heroism and vision of generations of Republican women and men.

More than a hundred years on the Rising against the British Empire remains a testimony to the triumph of human hope over oppression.

That those men and women took on, against all the odds, the might of what was called the greatest empire the world had ever seen;

That those women and men stood prepared to sacrifice all to win freedom;

That those same visionaries took a stand knowing they faced battle, imprisonment and death;

That these things happened, and that we are the inheritors of such a brave tradition is our profound fortune and honour.

It is often said that we stand on the shoulders of giants. We do.

And from that privileged position, as successors to, inheritors of the dream of a free and equal Ireland, we proclaim the message of liberation and love, of freedom and fraternity this Easter Sunday here in the proud city of Derry.

Unrepentant Fenians, irredeemable believers in the cause of Ireland and in the equality of our people.

Our great leader and friend lies here now.

Martin McGuinness, whose heart came alive and kept faith with the Bogside.

Martin McGuinnes, a faithful son of Ireland.

Martin McGuinness who fought, who made peace and who will never be forgotten.

Martin lead from the front, he took risks for freedom and risks to build the peace.

We are stronger because of him, braver because of him, closer to reconciliation and freedom.

The only fitting tribute to his great leadership is for us to lead on, to mobilise, to organise, to take a chance, to stretch ourselves and to match our dreams with ambition.

We can live in a united, free Ireland. We can live in a socially just, equal Ireland.

I believe we will. Martin believed we would. We will prove him right.

We promise to meet the challenges of our time with the grit and graciousness that were the mark of our Martin.

We stand in solidarity with Bernie and his beloved clann as we lament his passing and honour his life and legacy.

Irish unity has never been so openly and widely considered as it is now.

The constitutional earthquake of Brexit has forced the debate to new levels and with a new urgency.

The people of the North of Ireland voted to remain in the EU. The people have not consented to Brexit.

Ireland will not be the collateral damage in a Tory power play. We will not accept the disruption of our social and economic life or the sabotaging of the Good Friday Agreement.

We will not tolerate a ‘hard border’ on our island.

We do not accept any border in Ireland.

Our respect for our unionist brothers and sisters, for our loyalist citizens, for those who cherish their British identity is matched by our absolute rejection of the British jurisdiction in Ireland, which has blighted our past and threatens our future.

The Tories, Theresa May et al, must realise that their writ does not run in Ireland.

This is not Finchley.

They have no support in Ireland, in any community.

They are hostile to Ireland. They have inflicted austerity, poverty and marginalisation on the people of the North of Ireland.

James Brokenshire’s recent visit to Daisy Hill hospital only served to remind us of the fact.

We take no lectures from him or any Tory on the protection of public services.

They are wholly indifferent to the welfare of our people – Orange or Green.

Their agenda threatens to pauperise our farmers, our communities, our businesses and is rejected by our people, Orange and Green and every shade between.

The Taoiseach and the Dublin Government must represent all of Ireland, all of our people.

They have a responsibility to the people of Creggan and the Fountain just as surely as they do to people of Cabra and Fermoy.

We have argued for special status for the North within the EU. That position has the support of the Dáil. It has the support of the majority of members elected to the Assembly.

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny must argue for and secure that special status.

He must stand up and be counted, he cannot stand idly by.

We have fought two elections since we met last Easter. The political landscape is changed profoundly in the wake of the last election. Unionism has lost its majority at Stormont for the first time.

Electoral fortunes, as we know, rise and fall, but the loss of that majority position is significant.

It ends the generations old assumption of who held power and exercised power, since partition.

The insider, old guard, class has been challenged and chastened.

There is a new majority for social and economic progress, for a new political dispensation with respect, equality and integrity at its core.

I want to commend everyone who campaigned in that election. We are very proud to have returned Elisha McCallion and Raymond McCartney to represent the people of Foyle.

I want also to acknowledge the leadership of Michele O’Neill in that campaign, she is a woman of substance and determination.

One of us, mná na hÉireann, the most unmanageable of revolutionaries!!

The combination of the RHI scandal and the refusal of the DUP and the two Governments to honour agreements made conspired to bring down the Executive and triggered the election in March.

That same combination of negative politics has kept agreement beyond our reach and the institutions down.

That is very disappointing and unacceptable.

Those who hanker for the past, who cannot remove their sectarian blinkers, who have no vision or ambition for our future, cannot prevail.

It must be understood that we stand firm - that we are resolute, that we shall overcome the negative, discriminatory tactics of those parties who cannot accept that the past and second-class citizenship are gone, never to return.

The issues at the heart of the talks are not Orange or Green. We have not come forward with a Sinn Féin shopping list of demands.

We insist only that agreements made are implemented.

We insist simply that the rights of citizens are respected, that civil liberties and respect for identity are not suppressed or withheld on the say so of any party.

We will not tolerate discrimination against any section of our people; we will stand up and fight for all. What we win we will win for everyone.

The right to marry is a fundamental human right. It cannot be denied. It will not be denied. Our LGBTQ citizens are not second class. They will not sit at the back of the bus.

The Irish language and identity will not be demeaned or disrespected.

The Irish language is not a political weapon. An Ghaeilge belongs to every person who wishes to speak it, to live through it, to rejoice in its lyricism, its poetry, its music.

Arlene Foster should meet with Gaeilgeoirí. When she does she should make clear that she and the DUP will support and deliver Acht na Gaeilge. That would be a good day’s work and an act of real leadership.

Tá scéal mhuintir na hÉireann fite fuaite leis an nGaeilge. Insíonn sí dúinn cé muid, cad as a tháinig muid agus cá bhfuil ár dtriall. Is fearrde muid an Gheailge.

Ná bíodh eagla ar aon duine roimh chultúr na nGael atá oscailte agus fáiltiúil do gach aon duine eile.

Tá súil agam go bhfuil tuiscint níos fearr ag an phobal Aontachtach ar an nGaeilge anois. Gabhaim buíochas leis na daoine ar fad a sheas an fód ar son na Gaeilge go háirithe an Dream Dearg - bhí sé iontach na daoine óga a fheiceáil ag éileamh a gceart.

Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí amach ar na sráideanna!

The past, the suffering and loss in the course of our conflict is not a political football or the plaything of those who wish to score points against another.

Manus Deery, at 15 years old, lost his life to the bullet of a British soldier on the streets of Derry.

He was an innocent victim. He died in 1972. His family waited for 45 years for a new inquest. Forty-five years to have his innocence vindicated.

Shame on those who allowed his family to suffer.

Shame on those who allow so, many other families to suffer, to wait and wait.

The Chief Justice has called for resources, for money to be made available for Coroner’s courts and inquests.

Those monies must be released without delay – no preconditions, no excuses, no more waiting.

British claims of ‘national security’ concerns are simply excuses to exonerate the British state from facing the past, collusion and Britain’s dirty war in Ireland.

The truth won’t go away. The victims and survivors won’t go away.

The past and truth recovery will test all of us.

We are ready for the challenge. Others now need to step up, stop frustrating progress and implement the agreed mechanisms.

Victims and survivors deserve nothing less.

We have engaged extensively and in good faith in talks with all of the political parties and the two Governments since the election.

We will continue to meet, to talk, to seek resolutions.

We want to find agreement. We will work hard to reach agreement.

If that does not prove possible then we will return to the people in a fresh election.

Direct rule is not an option.

The people are in charge, they have delivered an unmistakable mandate for progress and change, for good government and for the implementation of longstanding commitments.

Let none imagine that the people can be faced down or frustrated in those aims.

Ireland is in a time of great challenge and change.

We need to prepare for Irish reunification now. We need a debate, honest conversations about a new Ireland.

We need to listen, to understand, to accommodate all of our people, in all our diversity in the new Ireland.

An Ireland that is Orange and Green, black and white, settled and traveller, Gay and straight.

An Ireland that protects the many and not just the privileged few.

That remembers and celebrates the past – the history made at the General Post Office in Dublin or on the banks of the Boyne - an Ireland that courageously, fearlessly faces the future.

Our strength is in unity, in making common cause with everyone who believes in a new political order in Ireland, grounded in equality.

Mar sin a chairde imeoimid as an áit seo lán le muinín, misneach agus neart. Tá a lán fós le déanamh.

Táimid ag faire ar an todhchaí chun sin a dhéanamh caithfimid breathnú siar agus a chinntiú nach ndéanfar na rudaí céanna arís - an éagóir, an ghéarchúis agus an chríochdheighilt.

Beidh Sinn Féin i mbun cainteanna ar bhur son - ar son na saoirse, cearta daonna agus meas ar gach duine.

Our patriot dead, the heroes of 1916 and of every generation made history with a clarity of purpose and a determination to succeed.

Today at the gravesides of our patriot dead, we pledge again to keep faith, to honour them, to finish the journey, to end partition.

That is the task.

Now it is our turn, our time to write the next chapter.

We cannot be found wanting.

We will not be found wanting.

Bígí linn agus feicfimid éirí na gealaí.