"My mother was born 106 years ago into an Ireland that was united and I can think about nothing better than working to build a united Ireland not just for myself but for my children and my grandchildren" was just one of the sentiments expressed by Mickey Brady the Sinn Fein Candidate for the Newry and Armagh Westminster seat at the launch of his campaign in the Canal Court Hotel last night which was attended by hundreds of supporters as well as Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

Mickey Brady
Mickey Brady

MPs Conor Murphy and Michelle Gildernew spoke of their admiration for Mickey while TD and party president Gerry Adams gave an outline of the current political landscape and said he had no doubt Mickey's expertise in welfare rights would allow him to make a huge contribution to the current situation.

Supporters listened to testaments from the audience about how Mickey had helped them while Mickey himself vowed to keep defending the same people he always has if elected as MP.

Speech by Mickey Brady

Chairde agus comradaha – Friends and family it is an honour for me to be standing in front of you this evening – seeking your endorsement and active support for my campaign to become the next MP for Newry and Armagh. I am immensely proud that my Sinn Féin friends sought to nominate and select me at the convention last October. 

Those friends included in Armagh City the poll topper Councillor Gareth Keating, in South Armagh Poll Topper Councillor Terry Hearty and in my home town of Newry Poll Topper Councillor Charlie Casey. 

Before I go on I would like to take a moment to acknowledge two people. 

Conor Murphy, the first Republican MP for Newry and Armagh. It is a great honour to try follow in the trail blazing footsteps of Conor. 

And I would like to also acknowledge one of the key background strategists in Conor’s successful 2005 election victory, Brian Campbell. Brian was many things a playwright, a movie maker, a GAA man, an activist, a thinker, a doer, a husband, a father. A revolutionary in the true sense of the word. He was a special figure of this struggle, an editor of an phoblacht, and this year of 2015 marks the tenth anniversary of his death. 

I would like to extend a special Newry welcome Party President Gerry Adams, Michelle Gildernew and the Families of our patriot dead. I would like to welcome the Sinn Féin Mayors of Newry and Mourne and of Armagh City and District. 

I would also like to welcome two very special people here tonight. My mother Sally Brady and her cousin John Tumilty. My mother who though she has seen a lot during here 106 years has never seen a Newry person elected as an MP for this constituency. I trust, with your help, we will put that right on May 7th! 

My mother was born 106 years ago into an Ireland that was united and I can think about nothing better than working to build a united Ireland not just for myself but for my children and my grandchildren. 

I would like to welcome my children, my family, friends and all of you here tonight. Thank you very much. I would especially like to thank my wife for standing with me through all of this. She knows more than most the sacrifice and privilege it is to be an elected representative.

It is a great honour to stand before you here in my home town as the Sinn Féin candidate for Newry and Armagh. That if elected I would be the first MP to represent this constituency from Newry Town would be historic.

But as you know I’m not just a Newry man

I am a proud Ballybot man.

An Baile Bocht. The poor town. Like many other places in Ireland that also bear this scar of history Ballybot is a proud, defiant place. 

It is where my values as a man were crafted, in these close knit streets and laneways. People who while they may not have much, what is there is to be shared. Neighbours are friends and friends are for life. 

Ballybot is to me the soul of Newry. It’s the echo chamber of Newry. The people there are a generous sort, welcoming, but they are no fools.

The people of Ballybot and of Newry will not allow themselves to be criminalised over what they name their streets and their play parks. 

When the Newry 1981 committee decided, with the support of local residents, to name Raymond McCreesh park to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Hunger Strike that broad based body did so because of the words of Bobby Sands. And tonight we gather on would have been his 64th birthday.

Bobby wrote: ‘Our revenge will be the laughter of our children’

Raymond was a deeply religious young man and Cardinal O’Fiadh stated “I have no doubt that he would have never seen the inside of a jail but for the abnormal political situation”

So how best to honour the sacrifice of this young man born in extraordinary times who was of course schooled in Newry. What more fitting a venue than a play park? What more fitting a place than Ballybot?

In Newry the laughter of our children comes from Raymond McCreesh park. Since the park was named in 2001 it has come from Raymond McCreesh park and it will always come from Raymond McCreesh park. 

We are proud of our past, proud of who we are and proud of where we are going.

And this election is about our future. It’s about the future of Newry and Armagh, it’s about the future of our country. It’s about the future for our children.

Newry and Armagh needs more. Decades and decades of deliberate institutional discrimination against this area takes time to turn around, but together we are turning that tide. The massive investment in new build education facilities in Newry, in South Armagh and in Armagh is but one example of that. We need to keep at it. 

That’s why I pledge not just to be the peoples champion, though the 30 years of working in welfare rights has it hard wired into me!

I pledge to be the champion of local businesses and of town centre development in Newry and in Armagh City.

I pledge to be the champion of agriculture and of the rural way of life across County Armagh

I pledge to be the champion of our health system and of our health care workers

I pledge to be the champion of the arts and of the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland Armagh. 

And I will tell you what I will not do.

I will not abandon my community

I will not take the voters for granted

I will not forget about the people I represent

Sinn Féin today showed what that means. When we sign up to a deal we stick to it. When others renege we don’t stand idly by. When we stand up for people we mean it

My allegiance will be to the people of Newry and Armagh and it surely won’t be to any foreign government of foreign queen.

Sinn Féin is on the rise. 

Our message, our vision and our politics are resonating with people in every county in Ireland. 

We are at the forefront of a new wave of politics across Europe. We have allies and friends in parties and organisations across this continent and beyond. Our reach and our influence far outweighs that of any other party that we stand against.

3 Senators, 4 MEP’s, 14 TD’s, 29 MLAs, 264 councillors, over 10 thousand members and half a million votes across this island tells its own story. We are the largest party in Ireland. 

On May 7th with your help I will be part of the largest Sinn Féin team of MP’s elected in modern times. But it has to be with your help. 

Sinn Féin and Irish Republicanism isn’t about who is elected. 

It is about us all playing our own part. 

I am asking each and every one of you to play your part in this election campaign. The grassroots campaigning and organising and cajoling for which we are famous. We need to go again.

I may be the Sinn Féin candidate but this is your seat. 

We need to reenergise and reinvigorate ourselves and our supporters. We gain our political strength through the votes of our neighbours and our communities. 

At this point their support is more crucial than ever. 

On the first day of Bobby Sands Hunger strike on the first of March 1981 he wrote “I am standing on the threshold of another trembling world”

Today Sinn Féin stands on the threshold of a new political reality in Ireland. 

Newry and Armagh has a key part to play in that. You all have a key part to play in that.

Between now and May 7th we have to show that we are up for this, that we are up for a fight.

On May 7th we need to send a clear unambiguous message that Newry and Armagh is staying Sinn Féin green. We need to make sure that Conor Murphy is not the last Republican MP for Newry and Armagh.

On May 7th we need to make Newry and Armagh history and make sure that we elect this Ballybot boy as your MP.

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