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25 April 2002 Edition

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All systems go

The longest phoney election campaign in living memory has ended. Polling has been set for 17th May and Sinn Féin candidates throughout the 26 Counties have been straining at the leash. Full scale canvassing and postering has been underway for some time now, but the naming of the date will focus all minds on the battle ahead.

In recent months, Sinn Féin has faced somethin of an onslaught from establishment politicians and elements of the media. The most disgraceful of these was the arrest of Kerry North candidate Martin Ferris and his director of elections. In recent times the media, encouraged by a couple of polls, has gone cool on the Sinn Féin challenge. But when was it ever different at this stage of a campaign? As Pat Doherty recalled this week, the pundits all gave him little chance against Brid Rogers in West Tyrone last year, but when the votes were counted he was a country mile in front.

The Fianna Fáil/PD government has squandered the opportunity to redress the economic imbalance between rich and poor during a period of unprecedented prosperity. Labour, whose socialist credentials are as believable nowadays as 'The Republican Party' line on Fianna Fáil posters, will again be open to offers from the highest bidder after the election and Fine Gael under Michael Noonan continues to flounder, finding little except its lack of personality to distinguish it from Fianna Fáil.

Sinn Féin, on the other hand, is on the up. Republicans have been the driving force behind the peace process and have effectively fought for social and economic equality North and South. When Sinn Féin says Share the Wealth it is more than an empty slogan. When Sinn Féin commits itself to building an Ireland of Equals, what it means is what it says. And people recognise this.

In the 1999 local elections, Sinn Féin made key breakthroughs in the 26 Counties based on a record of hard work, idealism, and dedicated service. People know we are different, that we are in this to deliver change, not to advance careers or repay favours.

A young Sinn Féin election worker was repeatedly challenged by irate shoppers on Dublin's Henry Street on Wednesday as he took down election posters erected slightly prematurely and in breach of litter laws. The passers by who intervened to protest the posters' removal spoke in glowing terms of their Sinn Féin representatives and promised their votes. Its not exactly an ICM poll, but that is the sort of response election workers have been reporting across the state. The party is hugely confident that the results will tell the tale and that Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin will have company in the next Dáil. It's up to all republicans now to get out there and do their utmost in the coming weeks to elect as many Sinn Féin TDs as possible.
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An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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