McGuinness calls for "decade of reconciliation"
Speaking at the launch of his presidential campaign in Dublin tonight in the Pillar Room of the Rotunda (1st October 2011) Martin McGuinness has called for a "decade of reconciliation". The full text of the speech follows.
It is a pleasure for me to be here tonight amongst so many friends and well wishers. It is a great honour to stand before the Irish people seeking their support to lead this great nation.
I believe in Ireland. I believe in the Irish people.
Traveling around the country in recent years I have become more and more outraged at the greed and corruption which has given rise to the greatest economic crisis we have ever faced. It is a scandal that ordinary people up and down this island are paying for this every day while at the same time trying to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables.
Who would have thought 150 years after the great land battles in Ireland after Davitt and the Land League that the prospect of eviction is looming again for Irish families.
Who would have thought 100 years on from the Dublin lock out when Connolly and Larkin stood with the people, that workers like those in Talk Talk in Waterford are once again being thrown on the dole queue without so much as a thank you in the Ireland of 2011.
The greed and selfishness that dominated so much of political and business life in Ireland in the Celtic Tiger years is responsible for the financial mess we find ourselves in today.
Those responsible for this state of affairs are not patriots. Patriotism is about country and people. It is not about self aggrandizement.
But greed and selfishness is not the Irish way — local identity, community and sense of place is what defines us as Irish people, knowing and helping your neighbour, being tolerant to those who are different.
As President I will be at the forefront of an Ireland reclaiming its true sense of identity. I want to give the Irish people back their confidence. We have seen the greed of powerful and wealthy groups dent the Irish spirit. We need to see genuine values replace a culture of individualism.
As President I want to see every citizen regain a sense of pride in their Irish identity. I want to highlight the importance of community and inclusion which are the cornerstones of Irish life. Ireland can and should be a place of positivity where creativity and innovation are nurtured.
Too many cynics stand in the way of our country reaching its true potential. I want to see Ireland reclaim the greatness of the tens of millions of Irish people across the world who are the leaders and innovators in the countries in which they now reside. I will be a President for all the Irish people including the Disapora. As a father and grandfather, I refuse to be part of the first generation of Irish people to hand this society on to the next in a worse economic state than it was given to us.
As President I will work tirelessly to fix what has been broken and to inspire everyone who is Irish or who has links to Ireland across the world to work together to make our country great again. If the Irish people vote for me as their President they know what they will get. Throughout 40 years and more of political activism, on the streets of Derry, in Downing Street, in the White House, in the Assembly and on Good Friday I have sought to bring a set of basic principles to my work – commitment – leadership – patriotism – endeavour – selflessness and a deep commitment to Ireland and her people.
As President I will defend and promote Ireland. I will uphold the constitution. I will stand up for sovereignty and freedom. Titles have never been important to me. Political office has never been about perks. The only thing about seeking or reaching high office which motivates me is how that office can be used to make a positive contribution to people’s lives.
That is why I have already said I will only take home the average wage and return the rest to the Irish people. It is high time those at the top shared the pain and showed a bit of empathy with the rest of us.
I reject the notion put forward by some that the President of Ireland is somehow a meaningless or powerless role. This does a grave disservice to the Presidents who have gone before – particularly I have to say both Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese – whose work as President has inspired and motivated so many Irish people both here and abroad. People have asked me in the course of recent weeks why I want to be President — that surely it would have been easier for me to simply continue as Deputy First Minister in the North. And there may well be some truth in that.. But this isn’t about me – I am standing because ordinary people the length and breath of this island have inspired me to run and in turn I want to inspire them as their President.
I want to be a President that stands for working families; for those struggling to pay mortgages; for parents fighting for better support for their children; for those with disabilities; for those lying on hospital trolleys; for elderly people fearful in their own homes at night or making a decision this winter on whether to heat their home; for those talented young Irish people being forced to emigrate to far flung corners of the world.
What Ireland needs now is investment and jobs. As Deputy First Minister, I have, along with Ministerial colleagues brought thousands of new jobs to the north – I want to use my international reputation – my influence and skills to go to the boardrooms of major US corporations and elsewhere and help bring new jobs to these shores.I want to act as an ambassador for all those indigenous firms who have, despite the massive challenges, provided employment and generated wealth.
The period during the next Presidency will see the centenary of many defining moments in our history. It would be my intention as President to use the next ten years from 2012 and the centenary of the formation of the UVF, the Home Rule campaign and the signing of the Ulster Covenant and the anniversary of the 1916 Rising to transform this decade of commemorations into a Decade of Reconciliation.
The Decade of Reconciliation would celebrate the diverse nature of our society, celebrate the peace we now have and commemorate the events of 100 years ago which defined the direction of Ireland up to the present generation. I believe that this is what the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation would have wanted.
We must continue to reunify the people of Ireland through reconciliation and respect. That is what will lead to an Ireland that is truly united. I am very confident in my Irishness. As President I will attend any relevant event to celebrate the different cultural views and political identities that exist in Ireland. There is a need for political maturity and tolerance of the differing views on this island throughout this sensitive period.
Outreach is not something that is confined to the North. There are many sections of Irish society who have felt excluded over many years. As President I want to reach out to them and make the Office of the President and the Aras institutions that they identify with and feel welcome in. This election is about leadership. I am willing to stand up and be counted and this juncture in our nation’s history. I will bring passion, patriotism and pride to the Presidency. I want the Irish people to stand with me.
Tuesday, 4 October 2011
McGuinness calls for "decade of reconciliation"