Remarks by the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the Official Launch of Mansion House Round Room
Built for the great royal occasion of the visit of George the Sixth.
It was soon home to the Gaelic League Dublin Feiseanna
The First Dáil.
The Treaty debates.
This room has huge resonances for Irish republicans.
It is here in this room that the core tenets of Irish republicanism, first advanced 130 years earlier by the United Irishmen, were reaffirmed openly and democratically by Dáil Éireann in our Declaration of Independence.
We declared ourselves for government 'based on the peoples will, with equal rights and equal opportunity for every citizen”.
In those few short words we proclaimed the meaning of the Irish Republic.
It is its people. It lives.
It is not a theoretical repository of sovereignty.
It is democracy in action.
It is the institutions and the government that the sovereign people choose to serve them.
It is the simple assertion that the people are sovereign - that same assertion which gripped the United Irishmen of Belfast and Dublin, the first TDs who gathered here in 1919, and which must drive Government policy today.
Because Republicanism is about the end-goal – 'Government based on the peoples will, with equal rights and equal opportunity for every citizen'.
And all day to day policies must be geared to that goal.
That means building and maintaining a powerful economy – harnessing prosperity to drive the agenda of social inclusion, social partnership, and ending unemployment.
And I think through the years – with varying success - we have remained focused on that goal.
As the world economy changed so to have our policies.
For example, De Valera's determination to steer an economic isolationist role for Ireland from the 1930's had altered by time he spoke to Dáil Éireann, reconvened in this room for the 50th Anniversary of the first Dail in January of 1969.
He spoke of Ireland 'ag dul isteach ag comhoibriú leis na náisiúin eile chun leas an iomláin a chur ar aghaidh.'
Four years later we took the sovereign decision to enter the EEC.
A decision which has greatly increased our resources and ability to build a society built on equal rights and opportunity.
My core point is this – the only credible Republican Programme is one which can actually be implemented in our real and living republic.
The only credibly republican programme is one with a sound fiscal policy.
A Programme which can deliver jobs.
Attack child poverty.
Drive social inclusion.
Tackle educational drop-out.
And focus on the poorest.
A Programme which responds to the needs and respects the will of the Irish people.
And the will of the Irish people as asserted in the 1998 referendum on the Good Friday Agreement was for our analysis of Irish Unity and Partition.
The Irish people backed the principle of consent.
That has profound consequences for all strands of Irish republicanism.
It means that there is a single path to Irish unity.
It is the peaceful convincing of unionism that their interests are best served within the context of a United Ireland. It is the rejection of coercion.
To that end Republicans must oppose all acts which polarise the two communities.
All acts which seek to bolster division between the two communities.
All efforts to consciously create a political narrative of nationalist versus unionist.
Or Irish versus British.
Or Catholic versus Protestant.
In place of division we need a joint attack on issues of
Wherever and in whatever community they are found.
Until the next IMC report in January, until the bona fides of the Provisionals is proven, there will be little progress toward devolution.
If that report gives a clear indication that IRA paramilitary and criminal activity has ceased we will look for rapid progress towards the restoration of devolved Government.
We are conviced that devolved Government on an inclusive basis is in the interests of all communities on this island.
In the meantime all nationalist and republican Parties, and the Irish Government, need to focus on rebuilding confidence in the political process.
We need to advance the practical all-island efforts to improve the livelihoods of all communities.
Extension of the all-island free travel scheme.
The all-island electricity market.
Restoration of the Ulster Canal, amongst others.
In short, we need to think in terms of an all-island economy.
I want to thank John Bowman for his fine talk on the history of the building. I want to thank PadraicO'Kane for outlining the future for the room.