Sinn Féin MEP and chair of the party’s United Ireland team, Matt Carthy, has called on unionist leaders to engage in discussions on what a United Ireland could look like.  “Pretending that the debate isn’t happening or that change isn’t coming, doesn’t prevent the debate or the change, it just reduces your potential to shape it” he said, continuing “That is unfair on unionist communities who must be accommodated in our new, agreed Ireland”.

Re-enactment in memory of Barney Morris at Crossmaglen easter Commemoration.

He made the remarks during an address to the Easter Rising commemoration in Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh on Easter Sunday morning. The event saw locals perform a pageant to commemorate the life of Volunteer Barney Morris who was killed during the civil war Ninety-Five years ago to the day.

Carthy also called for an end to the demands onrepublicans to stop remembering their dead.

Carthy said:

“Ireland is once again at a point of great change. The Orange state is gone. The perpetual unionist majority in the North has ended. The forces of conservative Ireland no longer enjoy the unquestioning support of citizens.

“Orange and Green are now part of a rainbow of colours and identities. A new Ireland is emerging.

“We now have a real opportunity to end Partition and build a new and united Ireland.

“We must secure and win a referendum on Irish unity.

“We want to engage the unionist people and their representatives in the debate – we want them to tell us how a united Ireland can and should protect their identity, their culture, their place in this country.

“The refusal by unionist leaders, thus far, to engage in this conversation, is a failure on their part, a particular failure to those they represent.  Pretending that the debate isn’t happening, that change isn’t coming, doesn’t prevent the debate or the change, it just reduces your potential to shape it.  That is unfair on unionist communities who must be accommodated in our new, agreed Ireland.

On the issue of the past and remembrance, Carthy said:

“We don’t need to accept each other’s version of history to acknowledge the rights of everyone to remember their dead.

“The ongoing campaign by some unionist leaders against any element of commemoration for republicans needs to stop as does the facilitation of that campaign by elements within the media who should know better.

“Raymond McCreesh refused to be criminalised in 1981; we will not allow our remembrance of him and other IRA volunteers to be demonised in 2018”.

Full text of Matt Carthy address to CrossmaglenEaster Rising Commemoration 2018:

A chairde. Tá fáilte roimh uilig ag an áit stairúil seo ar an lá tábhachta seo.

Tá mé fíor bhrodúil a bheith anseo in Ard Mhaca Theas.

On this, the 102nd anniversary of the Easter Rising we gather here, as people are gathering throughout our country at this time, to remember our patriot dead, and to recommit ourselves to the cause for which they struggled – Irish freedom, Irish unity, and a 32-County republic based on equality and social justice.

We remember today comrades who we have lost over the past year.

Today we also send our solidarity to the people of Gaza who once again are victims to the actions of murderous Israeli military forces.

South Armagh and Crossmaglen are places deeply rich in Irish heritage and with a very proud a community.  It is also a deeply republican area.

And there are many people buried in this graveyard who played their part in Ireland’s freedom struggle. They include Volunteers Barney Morris, Seamus Harvey, Brendan Burns, Malachy Watters and Francie Caraher. They are all foremost in our thoughts today.

In a cruel twist of history, Crossmaglen and South Armagh was cut apart from its natural hinterland to the South when partition was imposed on the Irish nation.

Along with people across the North, the republican people of South Armagh once again rose up against British rule in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Crossmaglen became an integral part, once again, of Irish resistance to foreign rule.  From 1969 to the cessations of the 1990s the fighting spirit of the people of South Armagh became a poignant symbol, a beacon of light, an inspiration to not just to others in Ireland but to those across the world who cherish freedom and justice.

For years, the people of South Armagh were threatened and intimidated by the British Army in all its guises, but refused to be broken. The people of this area fought back bravely and effectively gave lie to the claim that South Armagh was in any way British.

Along the lanes and in the fields and hills of South Armagh, decades of war saw a resilient IRA take on the might of the British Army. The IRA proved formidable and ultimately undefeatable opponents for the British Crown Forces despite all of their resources and firepower.

 Indeed, once described contemptuously as ‘Bandit Country’ by British Direct Ruler Merlyn Rees, this place was the most dangerous posting in the world for a British soldier.

Today we salute the determination, audacity and heroism of the IRA Volunteers of South Armagh and that of the people of this area who sheltered and supported them.

The heroism of republican South Armagh was evident also by the courageous and selfless sacrifice of Raymond McCreesh who died on Hunger Strike in 1981 as a prisoner of war.

People such as this are no ‘bandits’. They are patriots!

We don’t need to accept each other’s version of history to acknowledge the rights of everyone to remember their dead.

The ongoing campaign by some unionist leaders against any element of commemoration for republicans needs to stop as does the facilitation of that campaign by elements within the media who should know better.

Raymond McCreesh refused to be criminalised in 1981; we will not allow our remembrance of him and other IRA volunteers to be demonised in 2018.

South Armagh has been and remains at the forefront of the struggle for a united Ireland and when different phases of struggle saw the requirement of different tactics, South Armagh has always proved willing and able to adapt as required.

 This year marks the centenary of the 1918 general election. An election in which the vast majority of citizens turned their backs on Westminster and voted for Irish Republicans.

This was a changing Ireland led by a revolutionary generation. A generation of Gaels, of socialists, feminists and nationalists that found common cause in ending the union, in Irish sovereignty, equality and freedom.

That election was called the Sinn Féin election. The MPs elected refused to go to Westminster and established the First Dáil. These included the first woman elected, Constance markievicz.

Ireland is once again at a point of great change. The Orange state is gone. The perpetual unionist majority in the North has ended. The forces of conservative Ireland no longer enjoy the unquestioning support of citizens.

Orange and Green are now part of a rainbow of colours and identities. A new Ireland is emerging.

Sinn Féin a changing party, a growing party. A new leadership building on the legacy and work of all those who came before. Building on the work of Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinnes and others.

We now have a real opportunity to end Partition and build a new and united Ireland.

A new and united Ireland, must be about more than adding the North to the South.

We don’t want a mere 32 county Free State.

Those who I mentioned who lie buried here, struggled for a real republic. It is the republic of Tone and Connolly, Markievicz and Farrell, Sands and McGuinness.

The challenge for us, for this generation of republicans is how we shape that change, how we build a new and united Ireland.

An Ireland of prosperity and opportunity. An Ireland of equal rights in which everyone has a place. An Ireland that provides jobs, homes and health care for its citizens.

An Ireland that promises security of a roof over your head and fair pay for a fair day’s work.

An Ireland were no family lives in fear of the knock on door from a landlord. Where no one has to choose between heating a home or feeding a family.

It must be an Ireland of reconciliation and peace.

An Ireland where everyone has a place in society and a chance to succeed.

An Ireland where the nod & wink sleeveen politicians and the boom & bust economics of the past are consigned to history.

Delivering Irish Unity is the key to building a new Ireland based on social justice and equality.

There are those on the side of the status quo who will try and frustrate change, and who will seek to marginalise or demonise republicans.

Be they rejectionist unionist politicians, Tories in Westminster or the privileged elites in Dublin, they cannot and they will not succeed

Many of these are the groups seeking to impose Brexit and an EU frontier across our island. Something which would have devastating social and economic consequences for areas like this and for communities right across the border region.

These people do not care not for our citizens, or our rights or our economy.

They now are attacking the Good Friday Agreement, an Agreement that belongs to the people of all Ireland, not the Tories in London.

We must, in the time ahead, secure special status for the North within the EU and to meet the challenges of Brexit.

Ultimately we must secure and win a referendum on Irish unity.

We want to engage the unionist people and their representatives in the debate – we want them to tell us how a united Ireland can and should protect their identity, their culture, their place in this country.

The refusal by unionist leaders, thus far, to engage in this conversation, is a failure on their fact, a particular failure to those they represent.  Pretending that the debate isn’t happening, that change isn’t coming, doesn’t prevent the debate or the change, it just reduces your potential to shape it.  That is unfair on unionist communities who must be accommodated in our new, agreed Ireland.

Sinn Féin seeks to have the all-Ireland and power-sharing institutions re-established, with Michelle O’Neill as joint first minister.

We are determined to secure the right of citizens to marriage equality, to respect and rights for the Irish language and Irish speakers.

We will continue to pursue and promote the vitally important cause of reconciliation.

Some may try to frustrate change, but they cannot win.

The challenges are formidable but so are we, the people who seek change, freedom and unity.

Let us go forward determined to mobilise people and organise for change.

Now is the time to seize opportunities to build a newIreland – an Ireland that will be a fitting tribute to our patriot dead.

An Ireland that will be a home for all.

A sovereign, united Ireland with equality for all citizens at its core.

It is up to us all to complete the work of previous generations of republicans.

The republican leadership of 2018 is as determined and committed to see our country united and free.

Let’s go out and make it happen!

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.

Unionist leaders need to engage in United Ireland debate

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