May 17, 2024
Mary Lou McDonald TD conferred with Honorary Doctorate from Westfield State University

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD is in the United States today, where she has been conferred with an Honorary Doctorate from Westfield State University, Massachusetts and delivered the commencement address to the University’s graduating class of 2024.

She will also attend an event at the John Boyle O’Reilly Irish Centre in Springfield, which will also be attended by Congressman Richard Neal.

During her address, Ms McDonald spoke of the value of education, the strong connections between the people of Ireland and the United States, and renewed her calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and a free Palestine.

Ms. McDonald said:

“I am truly honoured to receive an Honorary Doctorate from Westfield State University and to deliver the commencement address to the class of 2024. It is a University synonymous with public education along with equality, progress and change. It has been a trailblazing University throughout its history.’

Speaking about the power of education and young people, Ms McDonald said:

“Education is the great equaliser and is the most powerful thing that we can give our children.

“In the young people of the world, there is immense capacity for good, limitless potential to make a real lasting difference.

“Young people fill me with hope – hope that we can end poverty and grow prosperity, that we can end inequality and expand inclusion, that we can consign war and conflict to the dustbin of history, that we can win the race against climate change.

“I believe that your generation can create a future of equality, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Your generation can change the world. I hope you choose to do just that.”

Ms McDonald called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, for peace and for a free Palestine.

She said:

“Today, our hearts break over the horror unfolding in Gaza – the slaughter, starvation and displacement.

“The horror of the October 7th attacks and hostage-taking does not, cannot justify Israel’s onslaught. The Israeli slaughter of Gazan men, women and children is the cruel crescendo of seventy-six years of occupation and apartheid.

“Many of the most powerful voices calling for peace, justice, for a ceasefire, come from the Jewish community. Their call is shaped by the unimaginable horror, the collective trauma of holocaust inflicted on their people.

“Leaders cannot continue to look the other way, cannot continue to arm, to fund an Israel that acts with impunity.

“We need an immediate ceasefire, the return of all hostages, and the renewal of a peace process grounded in international law. Palestine must be free.

“Young people across the world, of all backgrounds and races, of all faiths and none, are standing together against these war crimes. The world must listen to the voices of the young, because this
generation is right.”

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