Issue 4-2022 small

8 May 1997 Edition

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Historic election must bring change

It did not take long after Sinn Féin's stunning election success for the establishment media and politicians to claim it presented a new opportunity for peace.

The fact that they were now repeating Sinn Féin's election slogan after weeks of demonising the party was conveniently ignored. And thankfully the success was so decisive that the same commentators have been slow to insult the electorate by making excuses for how they cast their votes. They didn't lend votes nor were they fooled. They voted clearly - and in large numbers - for Sinn Féin's analysis and for a restoration of the peace process without preconditions.

If the voters are listened to the election will herald a new opportunity for peace. Those who hold power must now negotiate with the elected representatives of the people. That, they deserve to be reminded, is democracy.

Mo Mowlam has swept into the Six Counties seemingly determined to be a force for change. Already Unionists and some of those Tories who lack the humility to shut up after their resounding defeat are warning her not to tamper with the status quo.

Let's hope that Mo Mowlam senses that she has a chance to make history. Her party's victory in Britain leaves her able to set a path for decisive change in Britain's relations with Ireland. She must seize it - and quickly.

Praise for election workers

The Sinn Féin election machine in the Six Counties has been praised as the best in the country, even by its opponents. It is true for two reasons. First the consistent application of a strategy. Second the dedication of party activists at all levels and of staunch supporters whose enthusiastic participation is a cause of wonder to other parties.

No praise is too great for the Sinn Féin election workers after their achievement this week. Already they have begun work again in preparation for further success in the local elections on 21 May. In the 26 Counties 15 candidates will be contesting for Sinn Féin and that election is as vital as any in the North.

So now that the celebrations are over everyone should reapply themselves and really make 1997 the year of Sinn Féin.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1