At the annual hunger strike commemoration organised by Sinn Féin, party MEP Martina Anderson told the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that his government’s “days in Ireland are numbered”.
Issuing “an Irish republican message” to Johnson, she delivered a rousing, hardline speech and ended it with the republican slogan ‘Tiocfaidh ár lá’ [Our day will come]. She received a standing ovation and loud applause from those gathered.
In attendance in the Tyrone border town of Strabane on Sunday, where the event was being held for the first time, were the former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, current leader Mary Lou McDonald and deputy leader Michelle O’Neill.
Thousands marched along a road lined with Irish flags, across the border from Lifford in County Donegal. Among those remembered were those who died during the 1981 hunger strikes at Long Kesh, as well as those who died at Parkhurst and Wakefield prisons.
Ms Anderson, a former political prisoner, told the crowd that there would be no ‘hard border’ in Ireland.
Mrs Anderson also said she had some “advice for the DUP”.
“Britain has no friends -- it only has interests,” she said. “It is currently indulging you because you serve Brexiteer interests in the life of this British parliament.
“But do not get carried away. If circumstances change, if it suits the British government, it will ditch you. You can be sure of that.”
She concluded with what she said was an Irish republican message for the British Prime Minister.
“Don’t think we have suffered your oppression, your state killings and assassinations for decades; don’t think we’ve come this far to fall foul of Britannic jingoism; don’t think because you don’t like immigrants, don’t think that you can make us collateral for your unsavoury, ‘Little Englander’ attitudes,” she said.
“You will not be closing our roads. You will not be blocking our bridges. You will not be reinforcing partition by further dividing Down from Louth, Armagh from Monaghan; Fermanagh from Cavan; Derry and Tyrone from Donegal.
“You will not divide the families of Strabane and Lifford from each other.”
She said that when the London government says it doesn’t want a hard border “we don’t believe you”.
“Why don’t we believe you?” she asked. “Because you’ve lied your way through every land and to every people you’ve occupied and oppressed.
“And you can lie all you want but we know the truth, and the truth is that your days in Ireland are numbered; as the prisoners, as the blanket men, as the protesting women, as the hunger strikers proclaimed in the face of all that pointless British brutality above which they rose with such dignity: Tiocfaidh ár lá!”
The full text of Ms Anderson’s speech is included below.