'IT'S TIME': Sinn Féin calls on British and Irish Governments to plan for an end to Ireland's partition

'IT'S TIME': Sinn Féin calls on British and Irish Governments to plan for an end to Ireland's partition

MARY LOU MCDONALD has called on governments on both sides of the Irish Sea to “plan and prepare” for a united Ireland, claiming “it is time for Irish unity”.

Speaking at the Helix in Dublin over the weekend, at Sinn Féin’s first Ard Fheis in two years - in a year which marks the centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland, the party leader stated: “The partition of Ireland was a catastrophe.”

“Attempts to dress it up as anything other than a violent division of our people by force are wrong.

“It caused generations of injustice and conflict.”

She added: “It is not history, we live with it today.

“It’s why people in the North suffer Tory austerity - that’s the price of partition.

“This is the time to end partition, not to celebrate it.”
The general theme of Ms McDonald’s speech, which was well received by delegates on Saturday, October 30, was that it was time for change in Ireland.

In it she warned Ireland’s current Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael led coalition government – as well as the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – that they “can’t block change”.

“Every big step change in Irish life has been made by ordinary people seizing the day,” she said.

“From the Easter Rising to Armagh Gaol, and the H-Blocks of Long Kesh, Republicans have led heroically, selflessly in pursuit of the dream of freedom,” she added, “ordinary people creating extraordinary change.”

She explained: “At the last election, you told us you want an Ireland that is stronger and fairer, where workers and families come first.

“Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar couldn’t stomach that. They clubbed together to stop a government for change.

“In truth, they can block change, they can delay change, but they cannot stop it. Neither can the DUP.

“The Unionist electoral majority is gone. The days of domination are over.

“Those who hanker for the past, who disrupt the present and who threaten our future need to realise that there is no going back.”

Ms McDonald also singled out the British Government in her speech, claiming it should be ashamed of its plans to seek an amnesty on prosecutions for crimes committed during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

In July Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis revealed that the government would push to end any prosecutions for crimes in the North prior to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

The proposed legislation would apply to British soldiers who killed civilians, such as in the Bloody Sunday massacre, as well as to paramilitaries from all sides including the IRA, UVF and UDA.

The controversial move has been roundly condemned by politicians across Ireland.

Ms McDonald reiterated her party’s opposition to the plans over the weekend.

“The Tory government now seeks amnesty for perpetrators of British state violence in Ireland - shame on them,” she said.

“Boris Johnson, there is no support in Ireland or internationally for your amnesty.

“We stand with families who fight for truth and justice.”

She added: “The most powerful force in the world is an idea whose time has come.

“It is time for Irish unity - planning and preparation must start now.”

Regarding the party’s plans to move forward their united Ireland goal, Ms McDonald claimed: “Sinn Féin will a commence a people’s conversation from January next, we want to hear from everybody.

“The onus is on the Irish government to prepare for referendums and reunification.

A Citizens’ Assembly is urgent, a responsible government would establish it immediately.

“That is what a Sinn Féin government will do.”