Speech by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin to Irish Stand, Riverside Church, NYC

16 March 2018

Speaking at tonight’s ‘Irish Stand’ event in the iconic Riverside Church in New York City, Labour Party Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has condemned Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s invitation to President Trump. 

Senator Ó Ríordáin said: 

“As we take an Irish Stand this evening I’m mindful of the subtitle of tonight’s event – in Irish ‘Seas an Fód’ meaning ‘Stand your Ground’.

“The Irish have been standing our ground for generations, and now we stand our ground for others who share the same ground.

“The Irish are the people of the coffin ships, of mass immigration, of enduring discrimination, of seeking refuge from starvation, injustice and violence.

“Tonight we say to all communities in America, no matter who you are or where you are from – that we together will stand our ground.

“We take inspiration from the heroes of the past and the present. The Irish American LGBT community who were not welcome in the St Patrick’s Day parade but who stood their ground, and will march in Lavender and Green once again tomorrow. I applaud Brendan Fay and the St Pat’s For All Movement who are here again tonight.

“We are here to remind Irish-American Vice-President Mike Pence, of the Gay Conversion Therapy belief system, that we intend to Make America Gay Again.

“We take inspiration in this year of commemorations, from those who stood their ground in 1968 and who were beaten, maimed and killed in the process.

“Tonight is the exact date 50 years ago that Irish-American Robert F Kennedy announced his bid for the Presidency of the United States. A bid that brought such hope to those who needed him most. That Presidential bid cost him his life but I am so proud that his daughter Kerry could be here tonight and that she is still standing her ground for equality and human rights.

“It is also 50 years since the start of the Civil Rights struggle in Northern Ireland, when an oppressed religious minority began to stand their ground in peaceful, democratic protest. 

“They were inspired by Martin Luther King, who once spoke on these steps in this church, and they were led by John Hume. It is an honour to have his successor Colum Eastwood, leader of the SDLP here this evening.

“Colum boycotted last year’s St Patrick’s Day events in the White House and has done so again this year. Colum isn’t here to fundraise for his own political ends as others do, but to stand his ground for equality and human rights in Northern Ireland, Ireland and across the world.

“There are those who pretend to be friends of Ireland. Who wear the green of Ireland on St Patrick’s Day. If you threw a chicken wing or a can of Coke in the White House you would most likely hit a Kelly or a Conway or a McConnell or a McCarthy or a Ryan. All Irish names, all supporters of the travel ban and border wall. One such Irish name is Mick Mulvaney who explained to the media on last year’s St Patrick’s Day why cutting back on international famine relief is a justifiable thing to do.

“Remember this Irish-American Republicans – the famine is the reason why there is such a thing as Irish-America – the word Boycott comes from that time in Irish history when tenants stood their ground against an unscrupulous landlord Captain Boycott in Co Mayo. When you cut off relief, you cut off your history, your history and your humanity.

“We hope Irish-America will remember the generosity of the Choctaw Nation who raised funds for Irish famine victims in the 1840s. Truly it is time to Make America America Again.

“As Daniel O’Connell, great friend of Frederick Douglas once said of Irish-American slave-owners ‘How can the generous, the charitable, the humane and the noble emotions of the Irish heart have become extinct within you?”

“And Congressman Pete King of New York, that supposed friend of Ireland, the ardent supporter of all the most racist and xenophobic of Trump’s policies, we will cheer when Liuba Grechen Shirley takes you out in the Fall. Liuba is here tonight – and we’re so proud to take an Irish Stand with you.

“This is the 100th anniversary of the election that changed everything in Ireland. The year women won the vote, the year the first woman was elected in Ireland – Countess Marckievicz. Not an Irish sounding name – her husband was Polish – but women with humanity and equality surging through their veins who will stand their ground is what we need right now – from every background.

“And it is women who will finally put an end to the destructive and dangerous 8th amendment in Ireland’s constitution.

“As the anthem ‘Bread and Roses’, from the 1912 textile strike in Lawrence Massachusetts says: ‘The Rising of the Women means the Rising of the Race’ It is time to Make America Female Again.

“We salute the #MeToo movement, the March for Our Lives, the Dreamers and all those who will resist – resist hate, resist division, resist Trump and will stand their ground.

“Our Taoiseach shamefully invited Trump to Ireland this week. He is not welcome. We stand with all those in this country who demand a politics based on decency and hope.

“We beg you to Seas an Fód, to resist and to continue to stand your ground, and we will always share the ground with you.

“Make Irish-America Irish Again.

“Seas an Fód.

“Stand your Ground.”


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