New side advert

17 May 2001 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

Building an Ireland of equals : Most ambitious Sinn Féin campaign ever

BY MICHAEL PIERSE

Sinn Féin will today launch its 18 candidates for the Westminster elections of 7 June, the first time the party has fielded a candidate in each of the Westminster constituencies.

The party will be entering the elections spurred on by a backdrop of increased nationalist confidence, a burgeoning Sinn Féin vote and the success of its peace strategy.

There is no doubt that the Westminster and local elections will make for an engaging and fascinating contest, but they are also a benchmark against which we can measure the extent of political change in the Six Counties. What is unfolding, above and beyond the cynical choreography of intertwined propaganda and spin, is a fundamental and historic transformation in the political environment of Irish society.

The fulcrum of this historic transformation has been Sinn Féin's peace strategy and the party's development as an increasingly potent political force. Even the fact that it will be, for the first time, fielding a candidate in each Westminster constituency, conveys that confidence in nationalist areas is at an unprecedented high.

The peace process, warts and all, is delivering substantial change, albeit not enough, Sinn Féin will argue on the election trail. Progress on the policing, demilitarisation and equality issues has been hindered, primarily due to David Trimble's resignation threat last week, his refusal to nominate Sinn Féin's ministers to attend North South Ministerial meetings, and the British Government's failure to stand up and defend the Agreement in the face of this. The recurring emphasis on decommissioning IRA weapons that are kept under lock and key is evidence of a British political agenda still influenced too heavily by the twin negative influences of the unionists and the securocrats.

Further growth in the Sinn Féin vote will mean a more effective base on which to counter David Trimble's and British intransigence. It will also mean better representation at local level, a greater momentum towards national unity and a firm challenge to the unionist and British hegemony of repression and inequality.

Trimble's resignation threat last week is an example of that hegemony at work. It is an attempt to rubbish the genuine efforts of Sinn Féin in trying to bring about the conditions in which progress on the issue of IRA arms can be achieved. It is also an attempt to win votes for the UUP by creating an issue on which unionists can pontificate and David Trimble can flex his muscles.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams this week expressed concerns at the effect on the republican base of Trimble's latest threat. A senior Sinn Féin delegation has already briefed the Taoiseach on the issue. ``This is a process, but what is clear is that David Trimble's latest move has damaged these efforts,'' a spokesperson said. ``There is no doubt that Sinn Féin is committed to making this work.''

 

Elections 2001... Elections 2001... Elections 2001... Elections 2001



Keen and confident



This week saw Sinn Féin launch its local government electoral challenge throughout the Six Counties. For the first time, the party is fielding candidates in councils such as Castlereagh and Ballymena.

The party is also mounting a strong challenge for seats in Newtownabbey council with three nominees in the running.

Roisin McGurk fought a by-election in Newtownabbey last year in a campaign that tested the waters and showed the party's potential to win votes in places long viewed as loyalist strongholds. But it is in areas such as Ballymena and Castlereagh that Sinn Féin's challenge will shake unionism to its core.

Also the Sinn Féin challenge throughout the North will worry the SDLP. The party is standing 158 candidates in local elections, 50 more than last time and for the first time is contesting all 18 Westminster seats.

In areas such as Lisburn, where Sinn Féin councillors had to run the gauntlet of sectarian attack, the party is now the second largest party but is set to gain in the June 7 contest.

In Derry, Sinn Féin is also fielding a larger n umber of candidates than ever before and is confident of gains.

Speaking to An Phoblacht Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said: ``A stronger mandate in the upcoming elections will enhance the party's negotiating position and strengthen our ability in the negotiations to secure a decent civic policing service, a real process of demilitarisation and progress in implementing the Good Friday Agreement.''

 

Local election campaign

This week saw Sinn Féin launch its local government electoral challenge throughout the Six Counties. For the first time, the party is fielding candidates in councils such as Castlereagh and Ballymena.

The party is also mounting a strong challenge for seats in Newtownabbey council with three nominees in the running.

Roisin McGurk fought a by-election in Newtownabbey last year in a campaign that tested the waters and showed the party's potential to win votes in places long viewed as loyalist strongholds. But it is in areas such as Ballymena and Castlereagh that Sinn Féin's challenge will shake unionism to its core.

Also the Sinn Féin challenge throughout the North will worry the SDLP. The party is standing 158 candidates in local elections, 50 more than last time and for the first time is contesting all 18 Westminster seats.

In areas such as Lisburn, where Sinn Féin councillors had to run the gauntlet of sectarian attack, the party is now the second largest party but is set to gain in the June 7 contest.

In Derry, Sinn Féin is also fielding a larger n umber of candidates than ever before and is confident of gains.

Speaking to An Phoblacht Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said: ``A stronger mandate in the upcoming elections will enhance the party's negotiating position and strengthen our ability in the negotiations to secure a decent civic policing service, a real process of demilitarisation and progress in implementing the Good Friday Agreement.''

GUE-NGL-new-Jan-2106

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

Powered by Phoenix Media Group