On his first visit to Ireland Nelson Mandela gives a speech in Dáil Éireann on the continuing fight against apartheid and the desire to create a new South Africa.
On 1 July 1990 Nelson Mandela arrived in Ireland for a two day visit just months after his release from prison in South Africa. During his visit, he was given the opportunity to address Dáil Éireann.
In 1988, while still in a South African jail, Mandela became the second political prisoner ever to receive the Freedom of Dublin. The first was given to Lord Mayor of Dublin Timothy Daniel Sullivan in 1887 for supporting the rights of Irish tenant farmers. Mandela received the Freedom of Dublin at a ceremony at the Mansion House.
Nelson Mandela had promised that someday he would come to Dublin to collect this honour.
During his visit, he was invited to speak in Dáil Éireann, a privilege rarely extended to foreign visitors.
During his speech Mandela referenced the work of Irish poet William Butler Yeats in relation to the pain and suffering that Irish men and women of conscience had endured during centuries of struggle against an unrelenting tyranny. Mandela outlines how for seventy five years, under the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) South Africans resisted a racist tyranny.
The Apartheid system has killed countless numbers not only in our country but throughout Southern Africa. It has condemned to the gallows some of the best sons and daughters of our people. It has imprisoned some and driven others into exile.
Mandela went on the speak about his vision of a South Africa free from the shackles of the apartheid regime.
'Nelson Mandela Dáil Address' was broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 on 2 July 1990.