Saturday 23 June 2018

Mary Lou McDonald assumes Sinn Féin leadership insisting 'the war is long over'

Mary Lou McDonald acknowledges the applause of delegates as she is elected as Sinn Fein's president at the party's special conference at the RDS in Dublin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Mary Lou McDonald acknowledges the applause of delegates as she is elected as Sinn Fein's president at the party's special conference at the RDS in Dublin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Mary Lou McDonald was the sole nominee to take over the reigns of the republican party (Niall Carson/PA)
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Mary Lou McDonald has assumed the leadership of Sinn Féin, restating the party's goal of achieving a United Ireland and insisting "the war is long over".

However, Ms McDonald also closed her speech with unscripted militant Republican language, exclaiming "up the rebels and "tiocfaidh ár lá".

Ms McDonald takes over as Sinn Féin president today unopposed after Gerry Adams's almost 35 years in charge.

She opened her speech denying that her taking over the role was a "coronation", arguing that it was a democratic decision of the party.

Speaking in Dublin's RDS, Ms McDonald made no direct reference to the atrocities carried out by the Provisional IRA during its decades-long terror campaign.

Instead she emphasised Sinn Féin's role in the peace process, the need for reconciliation, modernising the party and its aim of going into government in the North and South.

Mary Lou McDonald and Gerry Adams
Mary Lou McDonald and Gerry Adams

Mr Adams role in the peace process has been noted in the days leading up to his stepping down as leader.

He has also been heavily criticised for his repeated denials that he was a senior IRA member.

Ms McDonald said there would be no peace process without Mr Adams and praised him saying he is "my political mentor".

She said her party respects the Unionist tradition in the North but said "we are United Irelanders. We want to secure and win a referendum on Irish unity".

Gerry Adams TD Picture: Collins
Gerry Adams TD Picture: Collins

She said this must be achieved with "graciousness and generosity" and she said she wanted to build on the work of the late Martin McGuinness and "reach out the hand of friendship, to find common ground".

Ms McDonald said: "We cannot allow those who want to use the past to maintain division and inequality to have their way.

"There is no value in re-fighting the battles of the past.

"The war is long over."

Ms McDonald added: "There is no value in engaging in the blame game."

"We do not have to agree on the past. There is no single historical narrative. We must only agree that the past is never again repeated," she said.

According to Ms McDonald "nobody should expected to forget".

"Nobody should be asked to forgive if they cannot do so.

"Every victim, every survivor of the conflict must be must be treated with respect, with compassion, with a recognition of their right to seek truth and justice."

She also said everyone has the right to remember their dead with dignity, including Republicans.

"We honour our dead with pride, with dignity, marking their sacrifice, lamenting their loss, embracing their families, " she said.

Ms McDonald set out the party's position on Brexit, the talks in the North, Europe and the upcoming abortion referendum.

She said Sinn Féin will campaign for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

Ms McDonald concluded her speech saying: "We are the generation of republicans who will see the rising of the moon.

"Sinn Féin in government North and South.

"Irish Unity in our time. Éire Aontáithe.

"And the establishment of a real republic of which Tone and Markievicz, Connolly and Skinnider, Sands and McGuinness would be proud."

She added in unscripted remarks: "So my friends of Sinn Féin. Let's get to work.

"Up the Republic, up the rebels and tiocfaidh ár lá".

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section