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29 January 1998 Edition

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Sinn Féin storm home in Omagh

By Mick Naughton.

As Sinn Fein's by-election candidate Terence Brogan relaxed after his astounding win at last week's by-election in West Tyrone, party activists were jubilant that their campaign had paid off so handsomely.

Election agent Barry McElduff said, ``everyone was delighted with the powerful message the result has sent out. With a high turnout of 72.6% and the quota being set at 3,856 Terence stormed home with 4,088 votes. His nearest competitor, the Ulster Unionist, came in with only 1,189 while the SDLP's runner could only muster 1,095.`` Brogan in fact polled more than every other candidate combined.

``Last year the Sinn Féin vote had reached 3,866, while the SDLP had managed 1,605, so it was clear that the Sinn Féin leadership's position combined with an excellent constituency service to the people had swung some former SDLP supporters to Sinn Féin,'' McElduff said.

``There are a couple of very clear messages which come out of this election and which people cannot afford to ignore. 53% of the total vote speaks volumes. The demand for Irish unity is as strong as ever and the voters have once more placed their trust in the Republican leadership, both at local and national level. Regarding the administration of Omagh District Council, the voters have signalled their strong opposition to the Unionist/SDLP pact which is about denying Sinn Féin access to senior positions in the Council. Let them now let democracy take its course and stop demonising the largest party on the local council,'' he said.

In a thank you message to the voters, his election director Sean Begley and his election team for their support Brogan signalled the wider implications of the Sinn Fein vote. ``The vote was really outstanding and Gerry Adams has told me that it has given the leadership a great boost and puts Sinn Féin well on course to take the West Tyrone seat from William Thompson at the next election. We look forward to that day.''
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