16 April 1998 Edition
SF membership to decide
As Sinn Féin delegates gather for their Ard Fheis in Dublin this weekend, the debate on last week's Agreement is gathering pace. The party's Ard Comhairle met on Tuesday and will meet again before the Ard Fheis. Before that, the Sinn Féin leadership is engaged in a series of briefings with their membership throughout the country.
``The leadership of Sinn Féin will meet, deliberate and hold further discussions at every opportunity but it is the membership of Sinn Féin who will make the final decision,'' said Gerry Adams.
That decision will take place after an intensive, comradely debate over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile divisions within unionism increased on Wednesday when the Grand Lodge of the Orange Order said they could not recommend the Agreement. It is a decision which is sure to put pressure on the Trimble leadership in advance of Saturday's Ulster Unionist Council meeting.
SF Ard Comhairle discuss Agreement
Sinn Féin's Ard Comhairle met on Tuesday to hear a report from the party's negotiating team. Afterwards, Gerry Adams said, ``The leadership of Sinn Féin will meet, deliberate and hold further discussions at every opportunity but it is the membership of Sinn Féin who will make the final decision.''
The Ard Comhairle meeting adjourned and will meet again prior to this weekend's Ard Fheis.
``In the meantime,'' Gerry Adams said, ``the Sinn Féin leadership is engaged in a countrywide series of briefings and discussions with party members.''
A Sinn Féin spokesperson described the launch of Ian Paisley's No Campaign to the ``Trimble/Adams Agreement'' as ``pitiful''. ``Sinn Féin has not signed up to the Agreement and are currently in the process of consulting with the membership,'' the spokesperson said.
Historic Ard Fheis this weekend
This year's Ard Fheis is set to be one of the biggest Ard Fheiseanna ever, with a record attendance of both delegates and media and the recent announcement by Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos Horta of his intention to attend.
Horta had been invited to attend the annual Ard Fheis by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams. Former foreign minister of a briefly independent East Timor, he is currently exiled by the Indonesian regime now controlling his country. His insightful views of the analogies between the 22 year-old conflict in his own land and that in Ireland should provide an interesting freshness to the proceedings.
Full reports next week
SATURDAY 18 APRIL
9 - 10 am: Registration
10.40 Putting People First
11.10 Political Hostages
12.00 Justice & Equality
2.00 Oráid an Uachtaráin Gerry Adams
Note change of time for
3.00 Officer Board & Ard Chomhairle elections
3.15 International Guests
3.45 Putting People First (continued)
5.15 pm Closing Speech
SUNDAY 19 APRIL
9 - 10 am Registration
10 .00 International Affairs
11.00 Constitution & Rules
11.50 Environment & Health Policy Documents
1.30 Guest Speaker
1.45 Towards a Lasting Peace
At the Centre of Irish Politics
3.45 A Strong Mandate
Sinn Féin - A Growing Force
5.00 Amhrán na bhFiann