26 February 2004 Edition
Building an Ireland of Equals
Sinn Féin activists from across the country will gather in the RDS in Dublin this weekend for the party's 2004 Ard Fheis.
It already promises to be one of the biggest in recent years, with more than 2,000 Sinn Féin members expected to attend over the weekend and 306 motions on the agenda. There will be international guests from many countries, including diplomatic representation from Australia, USA, Hungary, China, South Africa, Egypt, India, Slovak Republic, Greece, Cuba, Austria, Denmark and Germany, as well as guest speakers from the ANC, PLO and the Basque Country.
The theme of the Ard Fheis is Building an Ireland of Equals and the central messages are advancing the Peace Process, preparing for Irish unity and delivering radical social and economic change.
Four Sinn Féin documents will be launched over the weekend, on Garda Reform, neutrality, anti-poverty and Rights for All.
The Ard Fheis will be a platform for the party to signal its intent to make further electoral advances in the forthcoming local and European elections.
This week also marks the 10th anniversary of a Sinn Féin Ard Fheis that took place in the Killinarden Community Centre in Tallaght. Centre stage at that Ard Fheis was Sinn Féin's peace strategy and the document Towards a Lasting Peace in Ireland‚ but also dominating daily life was the relentless campaign of unionist paramilitaries and the issue of collusion.
Ten years on there have been huge advances and the society we live in is, in many ways, very different. But the spectre of the unionist paramilitaries and the attempts by the British establishment to prevent the truth about years of state sponsored murder from coming out hangs over a Peace Process in serious difficulty.
Despite the difficulties that still plague the process, as in 1994, this weekend's Ard Fheis will highlight the leading role that Sinn Féin is taking in delivering the peace and building a radical alternative in Irish politics.
Our day is getting closer.