Michelle O'Neill tells First Dáil commemoration in Derry bombers and hoaxers have zero support

The Deputy President of Sinn Féin, Michelle O'Neill, speaking at an event in the Guildhall to mark the centenary of the 'First Dáil' on Monday said those behind the weekend's bomb attack and yesterday's security alerts in Derry needed to realise there was zero support for armed actions among republican communities.

Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 9:11 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:20 pm
Sinn Fin Deputy President Michelle O'Neill with party members at the First Dil event in Derry.
Sinn Fin Deputy President Michelle O'Neill with party members at the First Dil event in Derry.

Ms. O'Neill said it was ironic that the disruption of the past few days had occurred on the anniversary of the quintessential expression of the democratic will of the Irish people and at a time when support for a peaceful transition to a United Ireland was growing steadily.

"It’s well past time for those involved in such actions to turn the page and support the task of advancing the peace process and republican and democratic goals or close the book, because there is zero support for armed actions in this society," she said.

"We will not allow these individuals to deflect us from this task or destroy the process of peace-building.

"There is absolutely no justification for these actions. The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) provides a democratic and peaceful avenue to pursue political change including the central republican objective of unifying our country.

"This bombing is totally unacceptable and, ironically, comes at a time when support for a peaceful democratic transition to a United Ireland as set out in the GFA is at an all-time high.

"There is no support or tolerance for these types of actions. Those involved need to accept that reality," added the Sinn Féin deputy leader.

Ms. O'Neill went on to characterise the representatives of the First Dáil who shunned the British Parliament to establish their own in Dublin on January 21, 1919, as the first real expression of Irish democracy.

"When the TDs of An Chéad Dáil met in the Round Room of Dublin’s Mansion House a century ago, they did so as the legitimate and democratic representatives of the Irish people.

"They were the embodiment of a nation’s desire to be free.

"Just weeks earlier, in the historic election of December 1918, the country had overwhelmingly voted to finally break the connection with England which then - as now - was the source of so many Irish ills," she said.

The Sinn Féin Deputy President attacked those nationalist and non-nationalist parties in Ireland now urging Sinn Féin to take their seats in Westminster, saying to do this would be a betrayal of the abstentionist mandate on which they stood.

She said: "Today, once again, the nationalist people of the North have turned their back on Westminster, electing seven Sinn Féin all-Ireland abstentionist MPs to represent their best interests.

"And it is an insult to that electorate when Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the SDLP demand that these MPs abandon the mandate they have been given by the people in order to go to Westminster, swear an oath to obey a foreign monarch and take their place on the backbenches of historical irrelevance.

"With breath-taking hypocrisy, these same parties will all line up to celebrate and commemorate the democratic patriots of 1919.

"But they are nothing more than rhetorical republicans and our message to them is clear.

"Just like the patriots of An Chéad Dáil, Sinn Féin will not be sending Irish representatives to Westminster."

And she repeated the Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald's call in the Mansion House in Dublin yesterday for the convention of an All-Ireland forum of all parties and interests to discuss and plan for the reunification of Ireland.

"A positive, national conversation about how our constitutional, political and economic future can be reimagined and redesigned has been started by civic and progressive nationalists – but the Irish Government must take their head out of the sands and understand that this reality is in fact occurring.

That the political and demographic landscape on the island is changing and they must fulfil their constitutional obligations by planning for constitutional change and a referendum on Irish unity," she said.