13 November 2003 Edition
Up and Running
BY MITCHEL McLAUGHLIN
Sinn Féin officially launched our Election Campaign on Monday in high spirits following reports from the hustings. The reception at the doorstep is very encouraging. The focus of the electorate is on the need for the political process to get back on track and get a locally accountable Executive up and running. And there is a clear recognition that Sinn Féin is the most effective negotiators. Most people are acknowledging this and is the reason most given for intentions to vote for Sinn Féin candidates.
In the last Assembly we had 18 seats, I have no doubt that we will increase this number significantly and be in a position to take the First or Deputy First Minister's position. It is not, of course about positions, but the achievement of that goal will signify a major increase in political strength and that is what is required to guarantee the continued momentum for change. Political strength will ensure that the wreckers and the opponents of change will not succeed in dragging our community back into conflict. But the strength necessary will only be acquired if enough people who want to see a speedy resolution of the remaining causes of conflict come out and vote. This will demonstrate your continued support of the Agreement, whose implementation remains the subject of bitter and slow negotiations. It will send a very clear message to the two governments that the Agreement must be implemented in full without any further delay.
By strengthening Sinn Féin's political mandate you will also give us the power to confront the bureaucrats, faceless civil servants and parties that have discriminated against perceived nationalist/ republican areas in the past. We will demand equality for the regions as promised in the Agreement and with your support ensure its delivery. We hear and will respond to the calls for provision of community amenities and facilities for the youthcess. The result of this effort is to be seen in every town and village in Ireland, not least in interface areas across the north this summer.
The peace on our streets this summer happened because republicans took risks and worked at community level with their unionist counterparts. By confronting the problems politically we were able to deal with them politically. That is why we began the recent dialogue with the UUP. This is vitally important work because an accommodation between nationalists and unionists will only come about through discussion and agreement. That process of dialogue continues. We have made progress. We need to build upon it after the election. By joining with us and endorsing this work you will increase the pressure on the two governments to deliver the programme of change that you voted for in the Agreement.
Your support in the forthcoming elections will mean that we can enter negotiations stronger and bring about the type of lasting change which implementation of the Agreement promised."