“We can be the generation that rights the wrongs set in train by the Treaty”. – Mary Lou McDonald
100 years ago on 7 January 1922 The Treaty was narrowly agreed by 64 votes to 57 by the Dáil. It had been signed by the Irish plenipotentiaries, led by Arthur Griffith and including Erskine Childers, Michael Collins, George Gavin Duffy, Robert Barton, Eamonn Duggan and John Charles on 6th December 1921.
The Irish delegation was outmaneuvered by a more experienced and ruthless British government. Lloyd George ratcheted up the pressure throughout the negotiations. He set short deadlines for responses, played on the political and personality differences within the delegation, and threatened ‘war – and war within three days’ if the Treaty was not signed.
The Treaty and partition created two conservative states on the island of Ireland. The broken politics that emerged gave us an apartheid state in the North; across the island the Magdalene Laundries and the Mother and Baby Homes; and in the South the sexual abuse and brutality of the industrial schools and mass emigration.
Brexit and the rejection by the British and the unionist parties of the democratic vote by citizens in the North in 2016 to remain within the EU has created a crisis which threatens the Good Friday Agreement and political institutions in the North. Despite this Sinn Féin is looking forward with confidence to the year ahead.
Uachtarán Shinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald TD said:
“Today, people want better. A new generation brimming with talent, with energy and with courage is stepping forward to shape a new Ireland. The Ireland denied to our parents and grandparents before them. We are fired up with big ideas for the next chapter of Ireland’s history.
More and more, Irish Unity is seen as the vehicle to achieve a fairer, stronger and better Ireland.
The discussion and debates on a United Ireland are happening now. It is the most important public conversation of our lifetimes. It is live today and belongs to each and every one of us. The people are ready for a deepening of this conversation.
There will be a referendum and we all get the chance to have our say. The Irish government must become persuaders for unity instead of idle bystanders. There is an urgent and immediate need to convene a Citizens’ Assembly to actively discuss and plan for constitutional change, and to harness the positive energy and momentum.
As we look to the future, I am confident that we are living in the end days of partition. We can be the generation that rights the wrongs set in train by the Treaty.
We are the generation that fulfil the promise of 1916 and build a new and united Ireland. A home to all of our people regardless of background or identity. Unity offers all of our people a new beginning. Let’s seize it together and for each other.”