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  • Writer's pictureGreg O'Loughlin

Nothing But the Same Old Tory

A Letter From the Road

a Chara,

I’m just leaving Washington for New York. It has been a busy and energizing couple of days. No matter how many times I travel to the Hill I always get that pinch-me moment when I see the Capitol Building.

The weather was just as I like it; cold and dry. The reception was warm and welcoming. Despite the unprecedented events of last week, Congress members and staff took time to meet and discuss political developments in Ireland. I thank all of those who took time out to meet for their advice and support for peace and progress in Ireland.

There is a justifiable shared sense of pride in the success of the peace process in Washington. The signing of the Good Friday Agreement, 25 years ago, remains an American foreign policy success.

Despite all of the frustrations and setbacks, peace has endured. A generation has grown up knowing peace and is hungry for the opportunity to write their chapter in our history.

The Good Friday agreement placed the future in the hands of the people. It asserted the equal rights of all, democracy, partnership, and peace; over conflict, exclusion, and discrimination.

Twenty-Five years on, and the greatest threat to the Good Friday Agreement is not the violent right of unionism or micro dissent republican groups, but successive Tory British Governments.

The Tories have continually undermined and polluted the political process to their own self-serving needs. Breaking agreements and international law, attempting to unilaterally impose their policy, creating a continual crisis with Brexit, and undermining the rights of victims of conflict.

At its heart is a particular Tory arrogance. That arrogance was laid bare this week when the British Government hosted a meeting with all the leaders of the political parties. They said that Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald could not attend because she was elected in Dublin but would “allow” Sinn Féin Vice President and First Minister (elect) Michelle O’Neill who is elected in Tyrone.

There is no Northern Sinn Féin or Southern Sinn Féin. They cannot impose their partition on our party. There is one Sinn Féin and it is an all-Ireland party. The Tory party has no mandate in Ireland.

This was a calculated insult to the largest party in Ireland and to Irish citizens living in the North. Sinn Féin told the British that they would not attend if its leader was excluded. The SDLP also refused to attend the meeting under the rules imposed by the British. The meeting went ahead but was pointless. An opportunity for inclusive dialogue was squandered by the British.

The days of Britain saying who has a seat at the table are over.

It is past time for the Tories in London to get back around the table as equals, honor the agreements and find joint solutions. Politics is the only way forward. The British government needs to stop undermining the political process.

Despite these challenges, with the help of friends from Ireland across the US this generation will have the opportunity to define the next chapter in our history.

Have a great weekend.

Is mise,


Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North America. Each week he writes a letter from Ireland with news and analysis. It is featured in the weekly Friends of Sinn Féin USA Newsletter. Be sure you are subscribed to stay up to date.

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