Marking the centenary of the signing of the treaty, Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald writes that a new and United Ireland is within sight and that we will see the ending of partition and the unification of all of our people, in our time. (For the Irish Mirror)
One hundred years ago this week, the Treaty was signed in London.
The terms were agreed to by a divided Irish delegation under Lloyd George’s threat of an immediate and terrible war.
The Treaty brought about the partition of Ireland.
It led to the creation of a repressive, sectarian state in the six counties and a deeply conservative, reactionary nation.
It also sowed the seeds of a century of division, distrust and conflict.
The treaty and partition are the root of a politics that has held back our people for far too long.
A politics fostered by jaded political classes at home and in London – whose desperation for power is always put before citizens’ needs.
It is the broken politics that gave us the Magdalene Laundries, industrial schools and mass emigration.
Today, we see it in the struggle ordinary people face in putting a roof over their heads, in accessing health care and in how our young people are denied opportunities.
We see it in the toxic nature of Brexit forced upon the people of the north despite their democratic vote.
A century on from the catastrophic treaty, Britain again makes a decision without a care for the consequences for Ireland. One that poses a real threat to our peace and economic prosperity.
Today, people want better. They are fed up with this stifling and recycled politics that diminishes our potential and future.
A new generation brimming with talent, with energy and with courage is stepping forward to shape a new Ireland.
The Ireland denied to our parents and grand-parents before them.
We are fired up with big ideas for the next chapter of Ireland’s history.
More and more, Irish unity is seen as the vehicle to achieve a fairer, stronger and better Ireland.
The discussion and debates on a united Ireland are happening now. It is the most important public conversation of our lifetimes.
It is live today and belongs to each and every one of us.
The people are ready for a deepening of this conversation. Both governments must get their acts together and respond positively.
The Irish government must become persuaders for unity instead of idle bystanders, while the British government must end its attempts to disrupt and block the impulse for real change in Ireland.
There will be a referendum and we all get the chance to have our say.
For now, there is an urgent and immediate need to convene a citizens’ Assembly to actively discuss and plan for constitutional change, and to harness the positive energy and momentum.
I am confident we are living in the end days of partition.
We can be the generation that rights the wrongs set in train of the Treaty by building a new Ireland. A home to all our people regardless of background or identity.
Unity offers all of our people a new beginning. The opportunities are immense.
We have never been closer to achieving the Ireland of equality expressed in the 1916 proclamation.
This is a moment of great hope and optimism. Let’s seize it together and for each other.