Work of First Dáil not complete – Irish Unity and Equality yet to be achieved
Speaking at the First Dáil Éireann Commemoration organised by the Houses of the Oireachtas in the Round Room of the Mansion House, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said that the work of the First Dáil remains unfinished and that there was a mandate to bring about a United Ireland. He said the First Dáil’s Democratic Programme had not been implemented and that no Government committed to the Programme’s principles of equality could preside over the divisions in Irish society today. Deputy Ó Caoláin was joined at the event by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Dublin MEP and National Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald, Deputy Speaker of the Assembly Francie Molloy MLA, Pat Doherty MLA, MP, Arthur Morgan TD, and Martin Ferris TD.
During the course of his speech, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“It was an All-Ireland Dáil that assembled here, a Dáil united in opposition to the intention of the British government to partition Ireland. We know the tragic outcome. Dáil Éireann was suppressed by the British government, which waged war on Irish democracy. Our country and our people were divided and the mass movement so strongly manifested here in January 1919 was split apart in January 1922.
“We salute all those who struggled for Irish unity and independence since the First Dáil Éireann met. We recall all those who suffered imprisonment and who gave their lives in the struggle for freedom, as so many of the first Teachtaí Dála did. No-one can credibly deny the spirit of freedom that links, to take but two examples, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney, TD for Mid-Cork who died on hunger strike in 1920 and the TD for Cavan-Monaghan Kieran Doherty who died on hunger strike in 1981.
“Our purpose today should not be simply to commemorate. The work begun on 21 January 1919 remains unfinished. Today should provide an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the need to end the division of our country and of our people. We are all mandated to work, by peaceful and democratic means, to bring about the unity of Ireland.
“We in Sinn Féin hold that as our central task. We take very seriously the need to address the fears and apprehensions of unionists. Our engagement with that community is very real and is ongoing. For the first time republicans and unionists are sharing power in the North-East of our country. The Good Friday Agreement is working, though much remains to be fulfilled. There is a new political dispensation. We have moved beyond the conflict of decades and have built a peaceful path forward. For us that path leads to a democratic Ireland, a nation built on unity and equality. As we mark the 90th Anniversary of An Chéad Dáil Éireann we look forward to the day when the elected representatives of all the people of our country will once more gather in the national assembly of a United Ireland.”
Deputy Ó Caoláin said that after nine decades the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil Éireann remains to be implemented. He said:
“If over the past decade the public right and welfare had been placed above the interests of private profit and property then our economy would not now be in recession.
“No Government truly committed to the sovereignty of the people over all the resources of the Nation and their development for the benefit of the people would have given away the massive Corrib gas reserves off our west coast.
“And a Government taking seriously the duty to ensure that no child should suffer from poverty, that all should share in the Nation’s wealth and that the health of the people should be safeguarded, would never preside over the inequality and division in Irish society today.”