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30 October 2003 Edition

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Sinn Féin Assembly election candidates profiled. Part I

In the first of a two-part series, we present the candidates standing for Sinn Féin in the 26 November Assembly elections.

East Antrim

Councillor Oliver McMullan

A councillor for over ten years, McMullan has topped the poll in every election since he entered local politics. He was central to Sinn Féin's campaign to prevent the privatisation of the Causeway Heritage site and maintain it under the control of locally accountable politicians. Oliver currently serves on the Board of Governors of two schools and sits on the Community Rural Estates Partnership, which deals with housing issues in rural areas. He has an unparalleled record of delivering for the people he represents.

East Belfast

Councillor Joe O'Donnell

Joe is a married man with three children and has lived all his life in East Belfast.

Working in the community sector for over 20 years, he is presently employed as an Economic Development Officer with the Short Strand Partnership. Joe's priorities include the creation of accessible job training schemes and targeting inward investment for East Belfast. He has played a leading role in trying to bring an end to attacks on the Short Strand.

East Derry

Councillor Francie Brolly

Francie has been a political activist for over 30 years. He was a prominent member of the Civil Rights Movement and was present on Bloody Sunday. He was elected to Limavady Borough Council in 2001.

Francie is a renowned musician who, with his wife Ann, has played across the island of Ireland and beyond. He is deeply involved with a number of cultural organisations and has been active in the promotion of the Irish language. He is a long-standing member of the GAA.

Clíona O'Kane

A former student at Magee University, Clíona has been active in politics since joining Ógra Shinn Féin at the age of 16.

Clíona has worked as election manager in East Derry for the past three years.

Working full time in the Dungiven Sinn Féin advice centre, she is playing a key role in the party's development in the constituency.

Fermanagh/South Tyrone

Michelle Gildernew MP/MLA

Michelle Gildernew is married to Jimmy and they have a young son. In 1996 Michelle stood for Sinn Féin in the Forum elections for Fermanagh/South Tyrone. In 1997 she was appointed Sinn Féin representative to London and was in the party's first delegation to Downing Street that December. She is a member of the party's Ard Chomhairle and has served on the Equality sub-committee and the Women's Forum.

She is currently party spokesperson on Housing.

She was elected MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone in June 2001.

Councillor Gerry McHugh MLA

Married with two children, Gerry McHugh was instrumental in organising the H-Block campaigns as well as the elections for Bobby Sands and Owen Carron.

Gerry is a member of Fermanagh District Council and is an Assembly member for Fermanagh/South Tyrone. He is a member of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and the Education Committee.

As party spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural affairs, Gerry has helped to defend the family farm unit through his membership of NIAPA.

Councillor Thomas O'Reilly

A councillor for the Erne East area, Thomas is a full-time youth and community activist who has been particularly active on the issue of youth service provision.

A member of the Western Education and Library Board, he has also been active in promoting the need for a particular focus on tourism in Fermanagh.

Foyle

Mitchel McLaughlin MLA

Mitchel McLaughlin lives in the Bogside area of Derry City with his wife Mary-Lou and his three sons.

A member of the Party's Ard Chomhairle, Mitchel is Sinn Fein's National Chairperson. He became politically active in the Civil Rights Association in 1968 and was a leading member of the National H-Blocks Committee.

He was central in formulating Sinn Féin's current peace strategy and in the drawing up of their two peace documents, Scenario for Peace (1989) and Towards a Lasting Peace in Ireland (1992). He was elected to Derry City Council in 1985 and as an Assembly member for Foyle in the 1998 elections. He is currently party spokesperson on the Environment. He polled 119,384 votes in the 1999 European Union elections.

Councillor Mary Nelis MLA

Mary Nelis is a mother of nine children, community activist and Sinn Féin councillor. Born in the Bogside area of Derry City she has been active in community and women's groups throughout her life. She was also involved with the tenants' association, in the Civil Rights Campaigns and was founder member of the Derry Reading Workshop - a teachers' co-operative for adult education and literacy skills.

In 1985 she founded Dove House with young people as a resource centre. She also helped set up the Templemor Co-op in 1989 to give employment to local women.

She was elected as a Sinn Féin Councillor for the Northlands area of Derry in 1992 and as Assembly member for Foyle in 1998. She is party spokesperson on Human Rights.

Raymond McCartney

A former political prisoner, Raymond participated in the first Hunger Strike in 1980 and has been active since his release with ex-prisoners groups across Ireland, currently serving as the Chairperson of Coiste na nÍarchimí.

Raymond is an active Sinn Féin member and has been central to the development of the Sinn Féin Peace Strategy.

Lagan Valley

Councillor Paul Butler

Paul has been a serving Sinn Féin member of Lisburn City Council since 1997.

He is a member of the Council's Strategic Policy, Planning and Finance Committees and is also a member of the South Eastern Education and Library Board and the Lisburn Partnership. As party leader on Lisburn Council, Paul spearheaded Sinn Féin's support for City status and has continued to highlight the council's discriminatory practices as part of Sinn Féin's pledge to make Lisburn into a new, inclusive city.

Newry/Armagh

Conor Murphy MLA

Conor Murphy lives in Camlough with his wife Catherine and young family. He is a graduate from both the University of Ulster and Queen's University.

He was first elected to Newry & Mourne District Council in 1989 and served as a Councillor for eight years. Elected as Assembly member for Newry/Armagh in 1998 Conor served as party spokesperson on Equality, and the Chip Whip and Chairperson of the Procedures Committee. Conor is party spokesperson on collusion and has been outspoken on the need for the complete demilitarisation of the Newry/Armagh.

Councillor Pat O'Rawe

A married mother of five children, Pat first stood for election in 2001 when she successfully contested the Armagh and City District Council elections. She was elected as the first Sinn Féin Mayor of Armagh in June.

She was a member of a key party delegation to Brussels earlier this year to hold discussions with senior EU officials on Sinn Féin's proposals for CAP reform.

Pat currently acts as Personal Assistant to Newry/Armagh MLA Pat McNamee.

Councillor Davy Hyland

Davy Hyland has just completed a very successful year as Chairperson of Newry and Mourne District Council.

A local schoolteacher, he has topped the poll since his election in 1993. Davy works closely with community associations throughout the area and has campaigned tirelessly for the retention of services at Daisy Hill Hospital. He is also leading the party's opposition to the introduction of water charges.

North Antrim

Councillor Philip McGuigan

Philip McGuigan is 29 years old, married and has four children. A former student of Queens University, he is a keen supporter of Irish culture and his children are being educated through Irish. In his Gaelic football-playing days, Philip won many honours including two All-Ireland Hogan Cup medals.

Philip was elected to Ballymoney Council in 2001 with the highest vote of any of the 16 elected councillors. He was recently appointed the party's spokesperson on Truth Recovery and Victims.

North Belfast

Gerry Kelly MLA

Gerry is a leading member of the Sinn Féin negotiations team and party spokesperson on Policing and Criminal Justice. He has been to the forefront in securing economic investment for North Belfast and is working to achieve a resolution to the area's housing crisis.

He first became involved in politics during the civil rights campaign of the late '60s, and served lengthy prison terms in England and the H-Blocks. He was part of the famous escape from the latter in 1983.

Along with Martin McGuinness he took part in protracted secret negotiations with representatives of the British government from 1990 until 1993. He is the outgoing Assembly member for North Belfast.

Kathy Stanton

Kathy is a former Belfast City Councillor and works full time for Sinn Féin in North Belfast. A former political prisoner, she is very active in community development.

She is also involved in Community Restorative Justice programmes in North Belfast. Kathy has met with British and Irish Ministers in a bid to end sectarian violence at interfaces and is the party spokesperson on Equality.

North Down

Maria George

Originally from Belfast, Maria is a well known Sinn Féin and community activist in the Killough area and is chairperson of the Killough Sinn Féin Cumann. She is the Sinn Féin representative for North Down and has a proven track record in fighting for the rights of community organisations and in community development.

South Antrim

Councillor Martin Meehan

Martin Meehan is a lifelong republican and a key advocate of the party's Peace Process. First arrested in October 1968, he spent many years in jail for republican activities. He is a member of Sinn Féin's Six-County Executive and is Chairperson of the Phoenix Drama Group.

Martin was elected to Antrim Borough Council in 2001 and sits on several of its key committees including the Strategy and Resources Committee, Public Services Committee, the Lower Bann and Lough Neagh Advisory Committee and the Environmental Committee.

He was the Sinn Féin candidate in the last Assembly election for South Antrim, and polled 4,160 votes, 9.4%, in the 2001 Westminster election in the constituency.


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