A UNITED, sovereign Irish Republic, based on equality for all, is the only outcome that will fittingly pay tribute to the legacy of those who fought at Kilmichael, and all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom, said Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O’Neill last weekend.
Speaking at the annual commemoration of the three IRA volunteers killed at the site in 1920, Ms O’Neill said their ‘selfless example continues to inspire us as we seek positive, progressive change for our people and our country’.
Irish Republicans today have a peaceful and democratic path to bring about reunification through the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, she said, adding that the DUP had ‘weakened the Union’.
‘The Tory/DUP Brexit has been an unprecedented folly creating the biggest constitutional crisis for unionism in a century,’ she said. ‘The in-built political unionist majority is gone forever.’
She added that the recent Northern Ireland census showed the changing nature of the North, in terms of multiculturalism.
‘In May the electorate voted in huge numbers in an historic election with Sinn Féin topping the poll. The DUP has now refused to accept the result of May’s election, using the protocol as a pretence not to serve with a nationalist first minister.’
The Cork-born politician added: ‘The balance of power has fundamentally shifted, and we are ushering in a new era of change.’
‘The DUP is punishing the public and polarising our politics by continuing to block power-sharing. We now have the largest number of votes on this island and want to serve in government north and south should the people decide,’ Ms O’Neill continued.
She reminded the crowd that next April marks the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which will be ‘up in lights across Europe and the USA’.
‘We are not only witnessing the realignment of Irish politics on this island – we are shaping it. I am working to build a society, not of orange and green, but a rainbow of colours and multi-culturalism which reflects who we are, what we stand for today, and which embraces our diversity. This is a defining moment in the history of Ireland. And the decisions we make now will shape the direction of our country for the next generation.’
She said it was now a time for big ideas, inclusive conversations, ambitious plans, and generosity. ‘Republicans have travelled a long road in the century since the Kilmichael Ambush, she continued. ‘No one ever said it would be easy. Struggle never is. But we are further on our journey to the New Ireland than ever before.’