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22 January 2009 Edition

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Completing the unfinished business of the First Dáil

ON Wednesday, 21 January republicans from all over Ireland gathered in Dublin to commemorate and celebrate the 90th anniversary of An Chéad Dáil Éireann – the first freely elected parliament of the Irish people.
At Wednesday’s event, republicans saluted all those who struggled for Irish unity and independence since the First Dáil met and recalled all those who suffered imprisonment and who gave their lives in that struggle.
It was an All-Ireland Dáil that assembled in the Mansion House 90 years ago, one that was committed to the unity and independence of Ireland. The majority of Irish people in 2009, as in 1919, support the objective of an independent and united Ireland. Most political parties in the 26 Counties also claim to support this objective and some, including Fianna Fáil, derive a considerable amount of their electoral support from a verbalised commitment to Irish unity. But despite having been in power for much of the last 90 years they have done little or nothing to bring it about.
The purpose of the Sinn Féin event at the Mansion House this week was not merely to commemorate. The re-unification of Ireland and the establishment of a 32-County republic based on the principles of equality and social justice as outlined the the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil is a live political project. Sinn Féin is pursuing a political strategy to achieve this. Building the political strength to bring about fundamental political, social and constitutional change is key to that strategy.
Republicans are working to maximise popular support for Irish unity and want the greatest cross-section of opinion to engage in a national conversation on how it can be achieved.
We are closer now to achieving Irish unity than at any time since 1919. Republicanism is growing in strength and influence throughout this island and ever greater numbers of people agree with the republican analysis of the political and economic logic of Irish unity.
Republicans in 2009 are also committed to addressing the fears and apprehensions of unionists. Sinn Féin’s engagement with the unionist community is real and ongoing. For the first time in history Irish republicans and unionists are sharing power in the Six Counties. The Good Friday Agreement is working, though much remains to be fulfilled.
Today, Ireland has successfully moved beyond armed conflict as republicans have built a peaceful political path forward. For republicans that path leads to a united, independent Ireland and in marking 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.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1