13 May 2004 Edition
Sinn Féin MLA in English Midlands for May Day
BY ELIZABETH MARKS - John O'Dowd, Sinn Féin MLA for Upper Bann, visited Birmingham and Wolverhampton for celebrations of International Workers' Day on 1 May. He was the guest of the Troops Out Movement and spoke at Trades Union Council events in both cities. Anti-fascism, anti-racism and asylum issues were the main themes of the day.
O'Dowd spoke strongly about the disturbing growth of racism in the Six Counties and stressed the duplicity of the 26-County Government in bringing in laws to inhibit asylum seekers when Irish people had been forced for generations to seek refuge in other countries. He blamed the British Government for creating the backcloth for overt racism and fascism by its constant chant of 'bogus' asylum seekers.
John O'Dowd is also leader of the Sinn Féin group on Craigavon Council. He won great appreciation for his stand against the council's refusal of planning permission for the first purpose built mosque in the north of Ireland.
Later that evening, John was also welcomed to a Palestine Solidarity Rally at which George Galloway spoke. He was asked to speak from the floor and received lengthy applause for his support for the Palestinian cause. His speech and presence gave Galloway the opportunity to draw the links between the Irish and Palestinian struggles.
Representatives of Coventry Trades Council, the Indian Workers' Association and the Irish in Britain Representation Group also met with John over the weekend.