This weekend Ógra Sinn Féin held a weekend of conversation and discussion in the Muirhevnamor Community Centre in Dundalk. Among the speakers were Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald, Louise O’Reilly TD, Megan Fearon MLA and Caoimhe Archibald MLA.
Local Louth TD Gerry Adams spoke at the event on Saturday. The former Sinn Féin leader spoke on the role of women and the campaign to achieve Irish unity.
Gerry Adams said:
“Women have played an essential role in the struggle for Irish freedom. At the turn of the 20th century Republican women were indispensably involved in many of the emerging organisations which were giving voice to the cultural, sporting and language renewal and rebirth that was taking place. Today that involvement continues and Sinn Féin is now led by two formidable women activists; Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill. And at this time the Sinn Féin candidate for the Presidency of Ireland is another formidable women Liadh Ní Riada”.
On the issue of a unity referendum and winning that referendum Gerry Adams said:
“We won’t have any kind of a republic until we have a united Ireland. We won’t have a united Ireland until we end the union with Britain. We now have a way of achieving this. Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement – a majority vote in a unity referendum obliges the British government to leave.
Despite the negativity of the Irish and British governments there is growing support for a referendum on unity and for a united Ireland. But there is much work to be done. Republicans have a responsibility to map out the kind of shared new Ireland, we are working to build.
To advance this objective we must foster a ‘Yes for Unity’ movement which is much wider and broader than Sinn Féin. We don’t own the unity debate and we know that throughout Irish history progress has been best served when likeminded individuals and groups come together to work for a common goal.
That was evident in 1916. It was most evident in the recent successful referendums on marriage equality and women’s health. We need to reach out to others and persuade them to join the campaign for a referendum and for unity.
There is also a responsibility on the Irish government and all of those parties which proclaim their commitment to a united Ireland, to work together and bring forward plans to achieve this. That means the Irish Government must advocate for, and plan for, a unity referendum and Irish Unity.
Ending partition and the call for a unity referendum have been given an added impetus by the threat Brexit it poses to the Good Friday Agreement and to the two economies on this island. The British government’s intention to take the North out of the EU, despite the vote by a majority of people there to remain, is a hostile action.
Despite this I believe that working together we can win a referendum on Irish unity. It is no longer a matter of if but when. After almost 100 years of a failed partitionist system and centuries of British involvement in Irish affairs, it is time for the Irish people, all of us on the island of Ireland, to shape out our own future”.