Sinn Fein TDS Caoimhghin O’Caolain and Martin Kenny with Senator George Mitchell at the Senator George Mitchell Peace Bridge on Sunday April 8th. A ceremony to mark the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the Agreement was organised by Church groups from Cavan and Fermanagh at the bridge.
The bridge links Cavan and Fermanagh and was opened in 1999. Senator Mitchell last visited the bridge in 1998 when he laid one of the beams. It was named after him to acknowledge his work in the achievement of the Good Friday Agreement.
Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD addressed a meeting of Friends of Sinn Féin in New York today. At the event she paid tribute to the former President of Friends of Sinn Féin, General Jim Cullen, who passed away in December last year.
Deputy McDonald outlined a vision and pathway to achieve a new and united Ireland. She invited those who support Irish Unity to continue to work, to lobby and to campaign for unity and made clear Brexit cannot be allowed to impose a hard border across Ireland.
During her address, Mary Lou McDonald TD said,
“Ireland is changing. The challenge for us, for this generation of Republicans, is how we shape that change, how we build a new and united Ireland.
"An Ireland of prosperity and opportunity. An Ireland of equal rights in which everyone has a place. An Ireland that provides jobs, homes and healthcare for its citizens.
"An Ireland where everyone has a place in society and a chance to succeed. An Ireland where it is about what you do, and not about who you know.
"An Ireland where the politics of the past, the nod and wink politics of the past, remains in the past. Where there is transparency and openness in government, where decision making is clear and free from any suspicion of undue pressure. An Ireland that can hold its head high as an equal on the world stage.
"That is our task. That is our job as republicans and supporters of unity.
"The support of Irish America is crucial to this task. As it has always been the case. The Fenian movement crossed the Atlantic.
"The Rising was only made possible with the support of the Ireland's exiled children. Their contribution writ large in the proclamation. They embraced the cause of civil rights and were central to the peace process.
"There wouldn't have been a Good Friday Agreement without American support and without Irish American support in particular.
"But our work is not done. We have many challenges to face, not least from Brexit. Let me be clear there should not be any border in Ireland and there cannot be any hardening of the border following Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.
"I ask you to continue your support as we work towards a new and united Ireland.”
Mary Lou McDonald TD will make her first visit to the US as President of Sinn Féin next week to attend St Patrick’s day events.
She will be accompanied by Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O’Neill, and former party President Gerry Adams at events in New York and Washington.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Mary Lou McDonald TD said;
“This is a very challenging time for Ireland with the DUP collapse of the talks process in the North and the potential of Brexit to undermine the Good Friday Agreement, our economy and the rights of citizens.
"Over the years, US administrations and Irish America have played a crucial role in developing the peace process and bringing about the Good Friday Agreement.
"The progress that we have experienced to date needs to be maintained and I believe that the US continues to play a crucial and positive role in that process.
"I look forward to my first visit to the USA as President of Sinn Féin and meeting with, lawmakers, members of the administration and leaders in Irish America on these issues and the growing campaign for Irish Unity.”
The delegation will brief the Congressional Friends of Ireland on Capitol Hill, speak at a meeting hosted by Labour leader Terry O’Sullivan and attend a celebration of the 20thAnniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, as well as the St Patrick’s day celebrations.
In New York they will meet with supporters and friends at a gathering in the Sheraton in Manhattan hosted by Friends of Sinn Féin, attend Mayor de Blasio’s St Patrick’s Day breakfast before joining the James Connolly Irish American Labor Coalition before the Parade.