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2 April 1998 Edition

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SF's listening process begins

By Michael Pierse

Dublin's Writers' Museum was the venue that kick-started last Saturday a series of Sinn Féin-organised public forums entitled Our Future-A United Ireland..

The forum was chaired by SF Vice-President Pat Doherty, General Secretary Lucilita Bhreathnach, representative for South Dublin Séan Crowe and West Tyrone talks delegate Barry McElduff.

A wide range of groups and individuals made contributions. Cabra Bunscoil headmaster Séan O Donaile concisely pin-pointed the necessary social metamorphisis a United Ireland would entail. Touching on a vast range of contemporary social issues, from ``the paltry subsistence living'' of single mothers to the difficulties of the education system, he concluded that ``poverty is still very prevalent in Ireland today.''

Sister Majella McCarron of the Irish Missionary Union, speaking in a personal capacity, drew attention to the ``conditioning'' of mindsets which suggest that the conflict in the six counties emanates from merely religious or sectarian tensions. ``The ethnic clash is a typical card of the opressors,'' she said.

South Inner City Sinn Féin delegate Geraldine Cusack highlighted the need for communities ``to be regenerated and reborn.'' Criticising the lack of concern conveyed by successive governments, she characterised their approach as ``institutionalised exclusion.'' Pat Doherty quoted North Inner City Sinn Féin's Councillor Christy Burke in saying that communities were ``losing their heart and their soul'', also commenting that ``sometimes oppression subdues instead of leading to resistance.''

As expected, the debate over Articles 2 and 3 and British misrule in the occupied six counties pervaded much of the discussion. Dublin City University lecturer Marylou McDonald, speaking in a personal capacity, stressed that ``this process is about us'', not ``them'' or''they'' and that any differences in 26 and six county nationalism ``has been manufactured over time.''

Finian McGrath, on behalf of the Irish National Congress, called for ``unity and a bit of discipline among nationalists'', also emphasising Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's neglect of his responsibility to ``represent the interests of the Irish people'', rather than comfortably resign himself to the role of a ``broker.'' Tom Molloy of the Family Federation for World Peace and Re-unification said his personal conviction was that there is no permanent solution to the nothern problem ``unless there is a united Ireland.''

The next meeting of the forum is to be held on Saturday 4 April in the Fir Trees Hotel, Strabane.
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An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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