23 February 2006 Edition

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Sinn Féin Ard Fheis 2006 POLITICAL PRISONERS

BY SHANE Mac THOMÁIS

Niall Connolly at the Ard Fheis with his mother Madeleine

Niall Connolly at the Ard Fheis with his mother Madeleine

Release of political prisoners demanded

Newry/Armagh MP Conor Murphy sent greetings to republican prisoners in Castlerea and Portlaoise Prisons and spoke for the Ard Chomhairle motion calling for the Irish Government to fulfil its commitments under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement with respect to the release of political prisoners and the provision of support both prior to and after release.

A range of motions from across the country called for the release of republican prisoners and sent solidarity greetings to the prisoners and their families.

One delegate strongly criticised the fact that the political prisoners section had been allocated the Sunday afternoon slot, highlighted the smaller attendance in the hall and absence of many Ard Chomhairle members from the platform.

The Colombia Three, Niall Connolly, Jim Monaghan and Martin McCauley were present at the Ard Fheis and received a very warm welcome home from the delegates.

This section concluded with all motions being passed and speeches of support from comrades from across the 32 Counties.

Vincent Wood read a statement to the Ard Fheis from the republican prisoners at Castlerea. In it the men reiterated their support for the leadership of Sinn Féin and the peace strategy, and gave a brief outline of their current situation.

They spoke about the difficulties they are experiencing with temporary releases; including the refusal of applications made on compassionate grounds, but concluded by saying that, despite everything, their morale is good and that they wished to thank all those who have worked on their behalf during the past year. "We also proudly remember our fallen comrades," they said. "Their memory continues to inspire us."


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