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25 February 1999 Edition

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Adams welcomed in Australia

Le Richard McAuley.

According to the Brisbane Courier Mail when Gerry Adams entered the civic reception organised in his honour by Mayor Jim Soorley his, ``welcome was more befitting a rock star than a politician at City Hall, with the crowd whistling, stamping, clapping and chanting `Gerry' as he took the stage''.

The Sinn Fein President was greeted by over 1,200 people at Brisbane City Hall on Tuesday evening and two hours later another 500 listened attentively to him as he spoke in the Queensland Irish Association.

Brisbane was the second city on Gerry Adams four city tour of Australia. On Monday he addressed almost 1,000 people at a literary luncheon sponsored by the Sydney Morning Herald which was the biggest ever seen in that city.

Introducing himself as a ``native aboriginal person from Belfast'', Gerry Adams has told journalists and audiences that he has come to Australia to seek support for Sinn Fein's peace strategy and for ``Ireland's quest for unity and independence and a democratic peace settlement''.

Speaking to his Sydney audience the Sinn Fein President said, ``we have a chance to take our history by the throat and shape it and turn it around ..... The people of Ireland deserve peace, deserve justice, deserve freedom, deserve the right to live together in peace and harmony. We have a chance to build a new relationship between the people of Ireland and the people of Britain. We have a chance to make violence a thing of the past. What we are trying to do is unprecedented in the history of our small nation''.

The Sinn Fein leader is accompanied on his trip by Ard Comhairle member Dodie McGuinness and by Anne O'Sullivan who is taking up the post, within the party, of co-ordinating and improving the party's profile in Australia.

Before he left Sydney on Monday evening the Sinn Fein delegation met representatives of the native Aboriginal peoples including Lowitja O'Donoghue and Mick Dodson. A group of young people performed Aboriginal dances for the Sinn Fein party.

Later in the week Adams will meet the Premier of Victoria Jeff Kennet and the President of the Australian Congress of Trades Unions. It is also expected he will meet the Federal Finance Minister Fahey on Friday evening.

Anne O'Sullivan told AP/RN, ``the response to the visit has been astonishing. Irish Australians who make up 30% of the population are clearly very interested and many want to help''.
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