16 February 2006 Edition
Sinn Féin aiming high in Dublin
Dublin Sinn Féin AGM
Aiming to be largest political movement in Dublin
Attended by TDs, councillors delegates and party activists from across Dublin City and County, Sinn Féin's Dublin Cúige AGM took place in the Royal Dublin Hotel on Saturday 11 February.
In his report to the meeting, outgoing Cuige Chairperson Justin Moran detailed the involvement of Dublin activists in Westminster and local elections in the Six Counties and in the Meath by-election. He said that Sinn Féin representatives in Dublin had worked with the trade unions to pass motions opposing the sale of Aer Lingus on South Dublin and Dublin City Councils following Sinn Féin TDs highlighting it in their Private Members Time in Leinster House.
"Our councillors highlighted the dangers of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders in their communities and in the councils, forcing local authorities to adequately study the government's proposals.
"The issue of collusion was forcibly brought to the attention of local authorities with motions supporting an independent inquiry into the murder of Councillor Eddie Fullerton and arranging a meeting between the Fullerton family and the Mayor of Dublin, who pledged his support," Moran said.
At all levels Sinn Féin spearheaded the campaign against the EU Services Directive, using it as an opportunity for outreach to the Irish Trade Union Movement on a scale not done before. The party is currently working with SIPTU Fire Fighters on starting a campaign around provision of proper resources for the Dublin Fire Brigade.
Moran paid tribute to the immense work of Seán Crowe and Aengus Ó Snodaigh in Leinster House, and the Sinn Féin councillors in South Dublin, Dublin City and Fingal Councils and Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald.
Sinn Féin in Dublin was key to mass mobilisations in support of the Rossport 5 following their imprisonment. From June Sinn Féin activists shut down Statoil and Shell filling stations, marched, held pickets and raised funds for the men as well as taking part in a number of marches held in Dublin.
Sinn Féin's Dublin Organiser Stewart Reddin addressed the meeting and delivered a report which dealt with Sinn Féin's organisational development and campaigning and publicity work in the capital. He then gave a power point presentation on the Cuige's plans for the year ahead.
Delaney receives standing ovation
The meeting was addressed by Seán Oliver of the party's All-Ireland Department who pointed up the potential of Good Friday Agreement for building progressive all-Ireland politics, and Eibhlin Glenholmes who addressed the need for Sinn Féin to seriously address the issue of gender representation at all levels of the party.
One of the highlights of the day was when guest speaker Joanne Delaney, the Mandate shop steward,sacked from the Dunnes Stores branch in Crumlin addressed the meeting. She detailed the background to her case and called for support from Sinn Féin cumainn across the city in her campaign to be reinstated and for full union recognition. Delaney received a standing ovation from delegates.
Following the election of the new Cúige Officer Board Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness congratulated the new Dublin leadership and said that they had a mighty responsibility at a critical time in the history of the republican struggle. He said that 2006 would be a critical year, the most critical in decades and that many people had big decisions to make, not least the British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Huge year for republicans
McGuinness said that it was a huge year for republicans with the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising and the 25th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike marking key milestones.
"There has been huge political changes in recent years and we have spearheaded that. The North has changed. Unionism has been shaken to its foundations... they will not rule again without Sinn Féin. This is difficult for them to come to terms with."
He said Sinn Féin was now the largest party in the Six Counties and this has been a huge culture shock for some. He referred to the fact that Liz O'Donnell of the PDs had said of this development that the other political parties in the 26 counties were in denial about the changed political landscape in the Six Counties. "They have been in denial ever since", he said.
McGuinness charted the huge changes in the fortunes of modern republicanism and the strength of Sinn Féin from the time of his release from Internment in the 1970s through the current situation.
He said Sinn Féin was now in a position where it could realistically look at becoming the largest nationalist party in the North. That would be "as of nothing" if the party did not do the same in the South. He said that when Dublin Organiser Stewart Reddin spoke about Sinn Féin becoming the largest party in Dublin he was "speaking my language". This was achievable McGuinness said and it was people in the room on Saturday who would achieve it.
McGuinness urged activists to reach out to young people, to women, to the new Irish and build Sinn Féin as the largest party in all of Ireland.