16 September 2004 Edition
Big crowd at opening of Mid-Ulster Republican Centre
Over 1,000 republicans from across Counties Derry, Antrim and Tyrone attended the official opening of Ionad Poblachtach Lár Uladh - Mid Ulster Republican Centre at Gulladuff on last Sunday evening. Despite the threat of inclement weather, a colourful parade led by a republican colour party made its way from the carpark at St. Mary's Church, Lavey to the Garden of Remembrance at the impressive new centre at Gulladuff.
Representatives from the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle in attendance included the party's National Chairperson, Mitchel McLaughlin, former Belfast Lord Mayor, Alex Maskey MLA as well as the party's Chief Negotiator and MP for the area, Martin McGuinness
At the Garden of Remembrance, wreaths were laid on behalf of Óglaigh na hÉireann and the large number of Sinn Féin cumainn organised throughout Counties Derry and Antrim before the colour party stood to attention as local folk singer, Moira Kelly who was accompanied by her husband Cormac sang Only Our Rivers Run Free in tribute to the area's republican dead.
Before unveiling a memorial plaque which is centred on a wall built with Convoy stone, Mid-Ulster MP, Martin McGuinness paid tribute to the area's republican dead. The Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator then gave an outline of the republican position in advance of this week's political negotiations at Leeds Castle, Kent.
The Mid-Ulster Republican Centre which is easily accessed by people with disability has a spacious and tastefully decorated conference/banquet hall which seats 250 people comfortably, a relaxing reception area, a large exhibition/meeting room, a committee /training room and a suite of 5 offices all fitted with the latest developments in information and communication technology. Also provided are impressive catering facilities, which meet the high standards required of the hospitality industry.