October 1, 2019
Irish unity has become the defining issue for our generation – Kearney

South Antrim MLA and Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney was tonight selected at a party selection convention in Crumlin, Co. Antrim to stand as the Sinn Féin candidate in South Antrim in the next Westminster general election.

Addressing the large gathering of party members and supporters, Declan Kearney said: 

“Irish Unity has become the defining issue for our generation. 

“The debate on future constitutional change is now centre stage.

“The partition of Ireland by Britain nearly 100 years ago was fundamentally undemocratic. There is nothing to celebrate about the centenary of the northern state.

“Partition created an Orange state whose laws were the envy of the apartheid state in South Africa.

“Partition has now run out of road.

“The British state has never cared about the welfare of citizens in this part of Ireland. That reality has been magnified with the onset of Brexit. Events in Westminster over recent weeks have underlined the absolute contempt of the British parliament towards Irish interests. 

“The DUP has shown repeatedly that it has as little concern for the rights or welfare of our people as the Tories.

“The DUP undermined the latest round of talks between April and August of this year.

“And now it is undermining the Irish back-stop as the only way to provide minimum protections against the imposition of Brexit.”

Concluding, the South Antrim MLA said: 

“This next general election will be a watershed opportunity for all progressives in the north to speak out on the future that they want.

“It will be an opportunity to reject Brexit and send a resounding message in support of Irish unity and a new constitutional framework which respects the identities and traditions of all people living in Ireland.”

The full text of Declan Kearney’s remarks are below.

“A watershed has opened up in the politics of Ireland, and political relations between Ireland, Britain and Europe.

Irish unity has become the defining issue for our generation.

The debate on future constitutional change, and transition to the reunification of Ireland is now centre stage.

The partition of Ireland by Britain nearly 100 years ago was fundamentally anti-democratic.

There is nothing to celebrate about the centenary of the northern state.

Partition created an orange state whose laws were the envy of the apartheid state in South Africa.

Partition has now run out of road.

The Brexit referendum over 3 years ago detonated a constitutional earthquake at the heart of the British state which has continued to deepen and reverberate ever since.

British state interference in Irish affairs has always been illegitimate. It has denied democracy and equality; and it has fostered sectarianism and division among our people.

The British state has never cared about the welfare of citizens in this part of Ireland.

It does not even care about those citizens who give allegiance to the union and the British state.

And that reality has been magnified with the onset of Brexit. Events in Westminster in recent weeks have underlined the absolute contempt of the British parliament towards citizens in the north of Ireland and towards Irish interests.

The only certainty is that there is no longer any certainty.

The toxic alliance between the tory government and DUP Brexiteers are the cause of that.

And the DUP has shown repeatedly that it has as little concern for the rights or welfare of our people as the Tories.

The facts are that the DUP undermined the agreement in February of 2018 which could have restored power sharing in the north.

The DUP undermined the latest round of talks between April and August of this year.

And now it is undermining the Irish backstop as the only way to provide minimum protections against the imposition of Brexit.

The fundamental questions which now arise are whether the northern state can embrace equality and accommodate Irish citizens and others living here as equals.

The only way to persuade northern nationalists, republicans and other progressives is through commitment to a rights based return to power-sharing.

The political challenge facing the DUP is to fully embrace proper power sharing and partnership institutions.

During the recent negotiations there was no serious evidence that the DUP wants to make a future northern executive and assembly work in the interest of all citizens.

This next general election will be a watershed opportunity for all progressives in the north to speak out on the future that they want.

It will be an opportunity to reject Brexit and send a resounding message in support of Irish unity and a new constitutional framework which respects the identities and traditions of all people living in Ireland.”

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