Below is the address of Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD to the Dáil on the nomination of a Taoiseach:
I want to thank my colleagues Teachta Pearse Doherty and Teachta Mairéad Farrell for nominating me for the office of An Taoiseach.
To be elected Taoiseach is a huge honour and today that honour will fall to Deputy Martin and I wish him well.
February was the ‘change election’.
In unprecedented numbers, people voted for fairness, for progress and for a new direction in Irish politics.
Sinn Féin won more votes than any other political party.
Undeniably, this was a mandate for Sinn Féin to be in government.
It was a mandate for a Government for Change.
Faced with the prospect of losing their grip on power, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have circled the wagons.
You excluded Sinn Féin, and the voices of more than a half a million people, from government formation talks.
Chaith daoine vóta ar son athrú. Tá athrú ag teastáil. Tá sé thar am.
Today’s marriage of convenience is born of necessity not ambition.
To buy time. To keep others out. To keep others in their place.
For you, it’s your way or no way.
I have to tell you that you won’t get it all your own way. That day is over.
Ní hionann an comhrialtas seo athrú.
Ní hionnan rialtas Fine Gael agus Fianna Fáil le chéile an t-athrú a chaith daoine a chuid vóta ar a shon i Mí Feabhra.
Níl sé seo ach níos mó dun méid atá ann anois.
The inescapable truth is that the future belongs to those of us who believe in change.
The measure and mettle of the Irish people, is reflected in how they have met the challenge of the pandemic.
The daily acts of kindness, the spirit of community, the commitment to the belief that nobody is safe until we are all safe.
The crisis has not dampened the desire for change, it has strengthened it.
People have had time to reflect on their lives.
To reflect on what really matters.
And they realise the price they pay for leaving Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in government is far too high.
The people were very clear in the election.
They told us what the foundations of that good life means to them – affordable housing, healthcare when they need it, childcare that doesn’t break the bank, a fair economy that delivers for workers, where you can retire with dignity at the age of 65 with your State pension, a greener, cleaner Ireland built on climate justice and on social justice and people told us, in large numbers and in increased volume, that Irish Unity is important to them.
This was not a protest vote.
This was a vote driven by kindness, by goodwill and compassion.
Rooted in common-sense.
Those very issues that dominated the election are ones that have been dodged in your Programme for Government.
As the leader of Sinn Fein, let me set out our stall.
Ordinary people will not shoulder the burden of this economic crisis.
They will not be told to stand at the back of the queue while the banks and the vulture capitalists have their fill.
They will not go down the black hole of slash and burn austerity.
We will champion investment, stimulus and policies that grow our economy and strengthen our society.
We will stand up for those who work hard to make a good life for themselves and their families but who see their efforts cancelled out by a cost of living that is too high and by the failure to support modern public services.
We will give voice to those who too often go unheard by government; people living with disabilities, carers, young people and our senior citizens.
We will work to transform all of Ireland for the better.
Fairness, equality, common decency and real solutions – these are the things that are important to workers and families.
These are the things that shape Sinn Féin’s determination to deliver what will be the most effective opposition ever seen in this State.
No longer is a better, fairer, united Ireland the dream of the idealistic few.
It is now the achievable goal of the many.
It is an ambition shared by people from all walks of life.
Change pulses through the veins of our nation fuelled by positivity, hope, solidarity and the promise of a better tomorrow.
Those of us who believe in change are resolute, determined and together.
It is the parties of the political establishment, hunkered behind your high walls and jaded ideas, desperately clutching to yesterday, who are out of touch.
The people of Ireland are entitled to a future that is the measures of their hopes, their aspirations and their ambitions.
To those who believe in change, to those who voted for change and to those who refuse to let go of change, I say this;
Dóibh siúd a chaith a vóta ar son athrú, impím oraibh gan tabhairt isteach. Ná caill croí. Níl mé – nó Shinn Féin – ag tabhairt isteach.
Our time is coming. Change cannot be stopped.
To every person who we met on the election trail, who confided their hardships and deepest fears, who inspired us with their bright optimism and ambition for the future, who entrusted us with the task of standing up for you, we are here because of you and for you.
This is not the end. This is just the beginning.