Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald today addressed the party’s general election candidates launch in the Round Room of the Mansion House.
The Dublin Central TD spoke about the need to give families and workers a break, and urged people to vote for a future that delivers for workers, families and communities.
The full text of Deputy McDonald’s speech is available below. Check against delivery.
MARY LOU MCDONALD TD
ELECTION CAMPAIGN LAUNCH SPEECH
THE MANSION HOUSE, DUBLIN
TUESDAY, JANUARY 21
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
“Fáilte mór romhaibh chun an Teach stairiúil seo.
“Fáilte speisialta roimh na hiarrthóirí uile atá ag seasamh san Olltoghchán.
“Ag seasamh do Shinn Féin, ag seasamh don bpobal.
“Agus ag seasamh ar son na Poblachta, mar a sheas siad anseo bliain agus céad ó shin.
“Welcome, friends, to this historic Mansion House, to the home of An Chéad Dáil Éireann, which met in this very room, on this very date 101 years ago.
“Welcome especially to all our candidates who are standing in this General Election – standing for Sinn Féin, standing for your communities, standing for the people.
“It is doubly appropriate that we gather here today. Exactly 100 years ago in January 1920 Irish Republicans were celebrating the victory of Sinn Féin in local elections across Ireland.
“Those candidates of 1920 were pledged, as we are pledged in 2020, to implement the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil Éireann.
“That Programme affirmed the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland.
“It established a Republican Government based on the principles of Liberty, Equality and Justice for all.
“It is in that same spirit we come together here today.
“Sinn Féin in 2020, is about finishing the work started here 101 years ago.
“The Ireland envisaged by those who sat in the first Dáil Éireann is not the Ireland we have today.
“This state, on this partitioned island, was not built on the principles of the Democratic Programme first presented in this house.
“Is it any wonder then that the two parties who dominated this state for decades could not utter the words ‘Sinn Féin’ when they commemorated the First Dáil last year?
“Is it any wonder that the outgoing Government, having sat in this room last year, planned this year to commemorate the very crown forces that banned and persecuted the First Dáil and terrorised the people of Ireland?
“And may I say ‘Míle Buíochas’ to the Irish people who gave Charlie Flanagan his answer!
“It is no wonder that the political establishment is embarrassed by our nation’s revolutionary past.
“Why? Because decades of merry-go-round Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments have seen the ordinary people of Ireland being left behind – again, and again, and again.
“At times of economic prosperity, at times of recession and during times of recovery – the story for workers and families has remained the same.
“Under Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, those at the top are protected, they prosper in good times and in bad.
“Ní hé an córas sin an Phoblacht a bhunaíodh anseo.
“Ní hé sin an Clár Oibre Daonlathach a glacadh ag na Teachtaí Dála Poblachtánacha.
“The landlords, the banks, the vulture funds and the insurance companies always find themselves at the front of the queue.
“Workers and families, those who do the heavy lifting in Irish society, are told to wait at the back for a break that never comes.
“Sinn Féin wants to end this cycle.
“We want to tranform Irish politics and change our country.
“We know the people deserve better.
“The people deserve a government that acts in the interests of citizens, not in the interests of the golden circles.
“The fact is that workers and families have never had a party in government that is serious about delivering for them.
“The establishment knows that Sinn Féin is serious.
“That is why they are trying to squeeze us out of the election.
“They want to portray this contest as a two-horse race, Punch and Judy, the Leo and Mícheál Show, the only show in town.
“However, when I look out across this room I see the best answer we can give them.
“Our candidates and our activists.
“Talented, decent people,
“People who stand up for others.
“People who work hard every day for those you represent.
“Sinn Féin is running forty-two candidates in thirty-eight constituencies.
“Candidates who refuse to tolerate an Ireland where inequality is accepted as normal.
“Candidates who refuse to sit back and do nothing in an Ireland where poverty is standard.
“Candidates who refuse to be silent in an Ireland where racism and sexism so often go unchallenged.
“We are bringing our message of hope, our message of solutions, our message of equality to the people.
“Sinn Féiners get out bed every day with the motivation to rock the system, to shake things up, to be the living embodiment of radical change.
“That is an inspiring thing.
“To open the door, face the day and say, “I will look beyond my own circumstances, I will look to the greater good” – that is admirable.
“That is honourable.
“I think those patriots who met here one-hundred and one years ago today would be proud that their struggle lives on
“Despite this party being the most vibrant force for positive change in Ireland, RTÉ and Virgin Media have excluded us from the main debates.
“Similarly, Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar and Brendan Howlin think they can exclude us from government.
“The three wise men of failed governments and broken promises think they can have it all their own way.
“The three parties who are most responsible for our unprecedented crises in housing and health believe that they will decide who is fit for government.
“Well, here is a newsflash for the leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party – It is the people at the ballot box who decide who can go into government, not you!
“Sinn Féin, and those who vote for us, will not be frozen out of the democratic process.
“The voices of those who want change and a progressive alternative will be heard loud and clear whether Leo and Micheál like or not.
“The establishment has closed ranks but that doesn’t mean that this election cannot be a watershed.
“I believe that this can be the election where the people say enough of the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil overbearing dominance of this state.
“Enough of governments that waste our time, waste our money and waste our trust.
“Sinn Féin represents the alternative.
“A progressive, republican vision for our future.
“As the men and women of the First Dáil stood at the threshold of history, so too have we entered a decade that will define our nation for a century.
“The next ten years presents an opportunity to realise a future that is both bright and prosperous for everybody.
“But we need a government that is prepared to make the right decisions.
“A vote for Sinn Féin is a vote for real change and vote for real solutions.
“A vote for Sinn Féin is a vote for a New Deal for workers and families in a new decade of hope.
“If we are given a mandate by the people, we will seek to deliver a republican programme for government.
“A programme for government built on common-sense principles for equality and prosperity.
You are entitled to a roof over your head
“Sinn Féin will tackle the housing crisis head on, delivering the biggest public housing building programme Ireland has ever seen.
“We will cut rents and freeze them for three years.
You have a right to see a doctor when you are sick or when you are in need of treatment.
“We deliver more nurses and hospitals beds into our health system. Sinn Féin will do what is needed to end the overcrowding crisis.
“We will work to the creation of an Irish National Health Service.
You deserve a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and an economy that works for you.
“Sinn Féin will give families and workers a break. We will put money back in people’s pockets
“We will cut the cost of childcare, We will begin the process of moving childcare to a public service.
“We will the USC on the first €30,000 earned, giving relief to every worker and taking 1 million workers out of the USC entirely.
“Sinn Féin is the only party committed to bringing the state pension age back to 65 years.
“Fianna Fáil and the Greens fist pushed the hike in pension age, Fine Gael and Labour put it into law.
“Finishing work at 65 is not “early retirement” as Leo Varadkar puts it.
“The workers of Ireland on a building sites, in factories, in retail, schools and hospitals, working shifts, paying their way, providing for their families could put him straight on that.
“It’s a measure of how out of touch Fine Gael is that they cannot recognise real life and the real experiences and contribution of working people and families.
“Meanwhile Micheál Martin’s Fianna Fáil is busy dodging this issue.
“No surprise there.
“That is what the leader of Fianna Fáil has been doing on every important matter affecting the lives of ordinary people for the past four years.
“We will ensure that those who wish to retire at sixty-five can do so with a state pension.
You deserve to feel safe where you live.
“The spate of recent violent crimes has sent shockwaves through our communities.
“We need to take on these gangs.
“It is time to give An Garda Siochana the resources it needs to do the job properly. Sinn Féin will deliver record numbers of Gardaí onto our streets.
“We will deliver modern sentencing guidelines, fully resourced courts and community support to take on the drugs epidemic in our society.
“We cannot and will not allow a small number of thugs – who believe that they are untouchable – to bring havoc and fear to our communities.
“Is ceart bunúsach é an ceart chun do shaol a chaitheamh trí Ghaeilge in Eirinn uile.
“Is linne uile í ar an oileán seo. Is cuma cén cúlra atá againn, is linne í an teanga Ghaeilge.
“Is leis an chine daonna í, seód luachmhar, agus tá sé suas dúinne í a chosaint, í a chaomhnú, agus í a chur chun cinn mar teanga bheo.
“Tá dualgas orainn tacú le phobal na Gaeilge, sa Ghaeltacht agus taobh amuigh di.
“Agus tá gá le dlíthe agus áiseanna, Thuaidh agus Theas, chun é sin a dhéanamh, rud a chuirfidh Sinn Féin i bhfeidhm i rialtas.
“I stand here before you as a determined and proud United Irelander.
“Irish Unity is the best idea for the future of our country.
“The story of Ireland for the next decade will be shaped by the path to unity and the fight against climate change.
“Two seismic shifts which will create profound change in all of our lives.
“I believe that these changes can be positive but only if we act now, only if we prepare now.
“Irish Unity and a Green New Deal for Ireland must be at the centre of everything we do.
“The unification of our country and action on climate change can be the bedrock upon which we build a new, equal and prosperous Ireland.
“Let’s have an All-Ireland Forum on Unity to plan for all aspects of reunification, including a referendum by 2025.
“Let’s also build a Green New Deal in which all of our thinking, all of our ingenuity and all of our effort is mobilised to win the race against climate change.
“Let’s come together at the end this decade and know that we acted at the right time to end the partition of our country and to transform our environment.
“Let us recall that what we did today, at this time, won a brighter and better tomorrow.
“Irish Unity and a just transition should happen in tandem.
“Céad bliain ó shin sheas an tír seo, Poblacht na hÉireann, mar eiseamlár don domhan, mar inspioráid do phobail ar fud na cruinne a bhí ag streachailt ar son na saoirse.
“To those who may not be convinced of voting for Sinn Féin.
“To those who may fall into the thinking of – oh, you are all the same.
“We say simply – give us a chance.
“The others have had theirs.
“They have had decades to make things better and they have squandered those countless opportunities.
“Vote for Sinn Féin this time.
“Vote for us now, in this election, and judge us on how we perform and how we deliver.
“Let Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have yesterday.
“That is where they belong.
“Tomorrow, belongs to those who want better.
“It belongs to those who want a new, equal, progressive Ireland.
“I am calling on everybody to show up for this Ireland.
“To vote for this Ireland.
“To vote for a future in which workers, families and communities come first.
“This is the future Sinn Féin will deliver.
“That is what you all will help to bring about as Sinn Féin TDs
“One hundred one years ago, Irish revolutionaries gathered here with a shared dream and a common purpose.
“To break the connection with Britain and to establish the Irish Republic.
“They believed that they could change the system.
“They knew then, as we know now, that things can be different if you stand up and make it happen.
“In this election, we remain the inheritors of the revolutionary vision of Markievicz, MacSwiney and Mellows.
“We know that patriotism is not some abstract notion but rather a passion born out of a deep commitment to the well-being of our people.
“James Connolly said it best; “Ireland is as distinct from her people, is nothing to me.”
“In this campaign and beyond – be absolutely sure of this – the people are depending on us.
“Let’s leave here today ready to deliver for them.
“Vótáil Sinn Féin.”