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13 June 1997 Edition

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Use renewed political strength

Sinn Féin's spectacular success in three elections in five weeks will go down as a triumph of organisation, hard work and astute political campaigning. The party's directors of elections, Dodie McGuinness in the 6 Counties, and Joan O'Connor in the 26 Counties have overseen this strong electoral advance for Sinn Féin. They and all the Sinn Féin election workers deserve the highest praise.

The stunning victory of Sinn Féin in Cavan/Monaghan represents the biggest breakthrough for the party in the 26 Counties for decades.

No one should underestimate the importance of this achievement. Sinn Féin has truly arrived as a strong political force with its entry to Leinster House and this is not only because of the Cavan/Monaghan victory. The party's vote increased significantly across all 14 constituencies contested - in most cases by 100%. Both Seán Crowe in Dublin Southwest and Martin Ferris in North Kerry came close to winning seats. While everything has been done by the political and media establishment to play down the Sinn Féin success, on the ground the message is clear - the republican alternative is winning more and more hearts and minds.

1997 has been Sinn Féin's year. With dramatic victories in Mid-Ulster and West Belfast and now Cavan/Monaghan Sinn Féin is on the rise.

Now, with the elections over, the message is that there is more work to be done. We are at a crucial moment in the struggle and Sinn Féin's political strength must be brought to bear. The people who voted Sinn Féin must be treated with equality.

Three years ago when the IRA called a ceasefire Sinn Féin had a political mandate which entitled their representatives to enter talks on the same basis as everyone else with a political mandate.

What has happened since has proved that the republican analysis has been correct. Every step towards equality has to be fought for - even the equality of respect for each vote cast, even the right to sit at talks on the same basis as everyone else.

Now with the Sinn Féin mandate massively increased and a momentum for change built up it is time to organise our renewed political strength towards achieving our goals.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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