Monday 21 January 2019

McDonald invokes 'tiocfaidh Ar La' slogan in speech

In charge: Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald at the party’s special conference in Dublin’s RDS. Photo: Niall Carson. Photo: PA
In charge: Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald at the party’s special conference in Dublin’s RDS. Photo: Niall Carson. Photo: PA
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Mary Lou McDonald closed her first speech as Sinn Fein leader with 'tiocfaidh ar la' - invoking a slogan long associated with the Provisional IRA.

The Dublin Central TD - who was ratified as leader to replace Gerry Adams as Sinn Fein president unopposed after his almost 35 years in charge - finished her remarks to 2,000 members of the party faithful by saying: ""So my friends of Sinn Féin. Let's get to work... Up the Republic, up the rebels, agus tiocfaidh ar la."

The version of her speech circulated to the media before she delivered it closed with a different form of words. It read: "Let's get to work. Ar aghaidh linn le cheile! Up the Republic!"

In her speech at the special party conference in the RDS, there were no direct references to the atrocities carried out by the Provisional IRA during its decades-long terror campaign. Instead she emphasised Sinn Fein's role in the peace process, the need for reconciliation, modernising the party, and its aim of going into government both North and South.

She denied that her elevation to the top of the party was a "coronation", saying it was a democratic decision.

Delegates took to their feet to applaud Mr Adams early in yesterday's proceedings. His divisive legacy has been the subject of intense debate in recent days.

He has faced heavy criticism for his repeated denial that he was a member of the IRA but has also been credited for his role in bringing about peace in the North.

Ms McDonald said there would be no peace process without Mr Adams and praised him as her "political mentor".

She spoke of the need to re-establish power-sharing in the North. Earlier, Michelle O'Neill, the party's new deputy leader, said talks with the DUP and Dublin and London will resume tomorrow and she expects them to conclude this week.

Ms McDonald set out the party's position on Brexit, Europe, climate change and the upcoming abortion referendum. She said Sinn Fein will campaign for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

But her speech also included traditional Republican themes. She said Sinn Fein respects the Unionist tradition but restated her party's aim to achieve a United Ireland.

She also 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."

According to Ms McDonald "nobody should be expected to forget. Nobody should be asked to forgive if they cannot do so".

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

Sunday Independent

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