Letter From Ireland
By Ciaran Quinn, Sinn Féin Rep the US
Congratulations to the Irish Edition for making it to 40! It is a credit to Publisher Anthony Byrne, Editor Jane Duffin and its contributors and loyal readers in America and across the Diaspora.
Forty years of chronicling changes in the U.S. and Ireland is quite impressive! Documenting the waves of Irish Immigrants, their hopes and dreams, their hardships and successes. Forty years of celebrating the defining contribution that generations of Irish Americans have made to the USA.
It is also worth remembering how Ireland has changed over the past 40 years.
At this time in 1981 conflict was raging on the streets in the North. Bobby Sands was planning his Hunger Strike in Long Kesh which would claim his life and the lives of nine of his comrades. Sinn Féin did not contest elections in the North and censorship was the law in Dublin. The Dáil was controlled as it had been since the founding of the State by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. This was Ireland when the Irish Edition went to print.
The past is indeed a foreign country. A generation has grown up knowing a peace that did not evolve by chance. It was nurtured and promoted by leaders across the political spectrum; and Irish America played a critical role in shaping the peace process urging President Clinton to issue a visa to Gerry Adams.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams visiting The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA, October, 1994
Following the August 1994 ceasefire and tour across America by republican legend Joe Cahill, President Clinton issued a visa for Gerry Adams despite bitter opposition from the British Government and later appointed US Special Envoy Senator George Mitchell who chaired the talks that led to the historic 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
Ireland remains a rare space for bipartisan politics. Democrats and Republicans acting together protected the Good Friday Agreement and prevented the imposition of a hard border across Ireland in the Brexit process. For that we are most grateful!
All of these developments under the watchful eye and skilful reporting of the Irish Edition. I doubt the paper in 1981 could have predicted the success of the Peace Process or that Sinn Féin would become the largest political party across Ireland and join the Democratic Ulster Party, DUP, in a power sharing Executive in Stormont.
Nor could we have predicted that the duopoly of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would be broken and that they would form a government together. Nor could we have foreseen that the first woman to lead the official opposition would be a Sinn Féin president—Mary Lou Mc Donald.
Ireland has changed much over the past forty years, but what of the future? Nothing stands still. The unionist electoral majority is gone. The imposition of Brexit has been a game-changer. A section of the community that would never have considered Irish unity is now looking at it as the route back to the EU.
Gerry Adams, John Sweeney and Sabina Clarke
It is up to the British government in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement, to set the date and provide the space for an inclusive, informed, and respectful discussion. Now is the time to set the clock and let the people decide.
The Irish Government has a constitutional imperative to promote and prepare for a United Ireland. That is what Sinn Féin will do in government.
I look forward to the day when the Irish Edition files its first copy from a new and united
You can read the piece on the Irish Edition website here: https://irishedition.com/2021/03/letter-from-ireland/