Change for the better is coming

New Year message from Deputy Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin...

As we enter into 2021, my immediate wish is similar to many – that we break free from Covid-19 and get to meet and embrace all our friends and family again.

The past number of months have been tough for everyone. For those who fell ill and to those who lost loved ones, it was especially hard hitting. I send them all every best wish for a better 2021.

We must reserve a special word of thanks for those who carried the heaviest burdens of the fight against Covid particularly our healthcare workers and those who keep services operational. I particularly thank our student nurses and I hope that their efforts will be recognised with remuneration for their work this year.

We must also thank the many others who worked throughout the pandemic and made all of our lives just a little bit more bearable. These include our shop workers, our council staff, journalists such as the fine team inThe Anglo-Celt, teachers and service providers. A special word of credit is due to the childcare professionals who continue to do one of society’s hardest jobs for a fraction of its worth. Their combined efforts have meant that, as a society, we will emerge from the pandemic strong and resilient. Míle buíochas go léir.

If 2020 was the year of Covid, it was also the year of fundamental political change. The emergence of Sinn Féin as the largest party in this State ensured that things will never be the same again. While the actions of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in refusing to accept the mandate for change was predicable, it also exposed their lack of vision.

I fully expect that the drive for change will continue in 2021. Ordinary workers and families deserve a break. They have a right to know that their children and grandchildren will be able to secure their own home, that they will live and find work in their home county and that they will have access to quality public services, including healthcare. These are big ambitions that Sinn Féin is intent on delivering.

So, too is the ambition to finally rid our country of the scourge of partition. This year will mark a centenary since division was imposed and Cavan and Monaghan were rendered from our Ulster neighbours.

The Good Friday Agreement created the peaceful and democratic route to a United Ireland. Brexit has exposed us to a whole new generation the undemocratic nature of partition. It’s time to undo this lasting barrier to our people reaching our full potential. First we must plan.

We must work together to access the benefits and challenges that Irish Unity will present. And we must then work to maximise those benefits and minimise those challenges. Finally, we must give the people of Ireland their say, in the referendum on Unity contained within the Good Friday Agreement. This work will start in 2021. Change, for the better, is coming.

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