9 February 2006 Edition

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All-Ireland Regional Campaigning

Over past month, the Regional Campaigning Strategy developed by Sinn Féin's All-Ireland Department was launched at venues along the border corridor, in South Derry, South Leitrim and South Armagh.

The strategy seeks to establish co-ordinating structures linking councillors in regions to drive forward integrated and linked campaigns across Ireland.

The project has identified the need to establish structures for this work first in the three cross-border regions (Northwest, Central Border and Eastern Border) in which Sinn Féin has approximately 60% of its local elected representation before rolling it out across Ireland.

The focus of the meetings was to bring councillors together in each region as a team. Three co-ordinators have been identified in each region to take forward the programme of work: Thomas Pringle from Donegal, Martin Kenny from Leitrim and Tomás Sharkey from Louth.

The theme was campaigning around Health issues on a cross-border basis. There are many issues facing border communities in terms of challenging cut-backs but also huge potential for Sinn Féin councillors to help deliver positive outcomes for local communities.

All the meetings expressed concern that there were now 78,000 people whose nearest out-of-hours GP provision was on the wrong side of the border and inaccessible.

Strategy co-ordinator, Domhnall O Cobhthaigh said the strategy would now be taken forward in terms of action-on-the-ground in each area.

"There is a great deal of interest in this sort of campaign work. It is what defines Sinn Féin to many people. Health is going to be a priority area for the party over the next few years. It is essential that we make the most of our political representation and use our strength to reach out to more people to deliver improvements.

The three regional co-ordination groups will meet again in February to take forward the strategy locally.

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