LEADER OF Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald will travel to Australia this weekend for a series of engagements in Perth, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane.
During the trip she will brief federal and state representatives, deliver a keynote address to the National Press Club in Canberra and speak at events hosted by the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce and the Sydney Chapter of Trinity Alumni.
She will meet with trade union leaders, representatives of indigenous organisations and attend Irish community events. She will also meet with young Irish people, including construction workers and nurses.
This will be Ms McDonald's first trip to the country as Sinn Féin President and leader of the opposition.
“Our message in Australia will be clear," she said ahead of the trip. "Now is the time to strengthen ties between our two great countries. Now is the time to assert the primacy of politics and democracy and now is the time to prepare for orderly, democratic and peaceful constitutional change in Ireland.
“To those young Irish people who have made the journey in recent months to Australia - I want you to know that we are working hard to change things for you, so that you can come home and be part of the new Ireland we are building."
She said change is happening across Ireland, referencing Sinn Féin leading the opposition and Michelle O'Neill being elected as First Minister Designate in Northern Ireland.
She also said the conversation about Irish unity is "happening all around us."
"This seismic change is happening as we approach the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement - an agreement that shows what can be achieved when people come together in common purpose and it also gives us the roadmap to the future," McDonald continued.
"The next phase is the reunification of Ireland. It is an exciting and positive time, full of potential. Irish Unity is about opportunity. The social and economic opportunities are immense, and we want to see them realised.
“As we prepare for these opportunities, we are dealing with the fallout of a toxic Brexit and an all-out attack on the Good Friday Agreement by the Tory government in London who have allowed the DUP to block the formation of the Executive in Belfast and who intend once again to break international law. While the resignation of Boris Johnson is welcome news in Ireland, whoever succeeds him in 10 Downing Street must change direction and re-commit to the Good Friday Agreement and abide by international law."
She finished by saying the trip to Australia is "about change, opportunity and international solidarity."
"Ireland can be a united country, one that stands as a bastion of social equality, economic justice, diversity and inclusion. These are values we share with the people of Australia.”