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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 12°C
# Slán gerry
Mary Lou McDonald is the new leader of Sinn Féin
In her speech, McDonald said “we are the generation of republicans who will see the rising of the moon”.

mary louu

MARY LOU MCDONALD has been formally elected as the new leader of Sinn Féin.

With only standing room in the packed RDS in Dublin, McDonald received a standing ovation as she said outlined in her own words, her style of leadership and how Sinn Féin must modernise.

Laying down her markers as the new leader of the party, she said her key focus going forward is Brexit, the party’s approach to Europe, reconciliation and healing in the North and repealing the Eighth Amendment.

Calling Gerry Adams “an inspirational leader” and “a great friend” she said there would be no Good Friday Agreement and no peace process without him.

Outlining her own politics and plans for the party under her leadership, she said “now is the time for fresh thinking and bold ideas”.

She told the crowd she was ready for the challenge of leadership, and that she would “lead from the front” with new deputy leader Michelle O’Neill.

“We must strive to see things from the perspective of others, to walk in their shoes and to reach a deeper understanding of their position,” she said.

We must also be true to our beliefs, our experiences, our promises. I believe if something is worth having then it is worth working for… I believe in the unity of our nation in all its colours and the unity of all our people.

McDonald said she is ready to take the party forward, hinting that changes in language and tone of the party might need reform.

Our focus must be on building Sinn Féin into an organisation that is fit for purpose. And our purpose is to win. To win elections, to increase our political strength, to realise our ambition of being in government, north and south.

“Now is the time for new leadership. I am ready to lead,” she said, adding that as a “proud Dubliner” and a mother, she wants every parent and their children to be “happy, to fulfil their dreams and potential, to never be held back by inequality, disadvantage or discrimination”.

“I believe in getting things done. If something is broken you roll up your sleeves and you fix it,” said told the crowd.

United Ireland

McDonald said that Sinn Féin is the only party that will build “a United Ireland and a real republic”.

She said that the party must “modernise [its] approaches and [its] structures”.

“This will mean changes in how we operate,” she said. “We must be open, flexible and enthusiastic in creating  space for newer members and for the sharing of new ideas.

And our purpose is to win. To win elections, to increase our political strength, to realise our ambition of being in government, north and south… And ultimately to win Irish unity.

McDonald said that Sinn Féin would fight the corner of people who struggle “no matter how early they get up”.

She said that she respected that belief in the union with Britain is a “core part of the tradition and identity of a substantial section” of people in Northern Ireland.

“Irish unity cannot be a crude exercise of simply stitching north to south and returning to business as usual,” she said. “We want a new Ireland, in which rights are guaranteed, cultures respected, and the diversity of our identities embraced.”

She said there was “no single historical narrative” and that there is “no value in re-fighting the battles of the past” or “engaging in the blame game”.

New chapter

Towards the end of the speech, McDonald referenced the upcoming Eighth Amendment referendum, and said that Sinn Féin will “campaign enthusiastically for repeal”.

“We will be on the airwaves vigorously arguing our case for repeal,” she said. “Some people will not share our analysis. I respect their right to hold that view.

However despite differing views, I believe that the referendum debate can be handled with respect and sincerity. For too long women have been let down. This cannot continue. We cannot tolerate it.

She closed the speech by saying that a new chapter on the road to the republic has begun.

“We are the generation of republicans who will see the rising of the moon,” she said, quoting from the old Irish ballad and the prison diary of Bobby Sands. “Sinn Féin in government both North and South. Irish unity in our time.

And the establishment of a real republic of which Tone and Markievicz, Connolly and Skinnider, Sands and McGuinness would be proud… Let’s get to work.

Can’t watch the video, click here.

With reporting from Sean Murray

Read: Mary Lou McDonald to lay out her vision to ‘modernise’ the Sinn Féin party

Read: These are the big tests facing Mary Lou as she fills Gerry’s shoes

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