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5 March 1998 Edition

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Saluting women in struggle

THIS Sunday 8 March marks International Women's Day and on this 200th anniversary of the 1798 Rebellion, the heroic efforts of Irish women such as Betsy Gray, Mary Anne McCracken, Anne Devlin and their comrades, will be saluted.

Two centuries on, Irish women, Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter, have continued to swell the ranks of those movements fighting for self-determination and struggled for equality through trade unions and the autonomous women's movement.

Most especially, republican women have propelled the fight for national self-determination forward at key points in the struggle.

Women have been to the fore over the past three decades in the struggles for civil rights, the campaign by the prisoners for political status, and the campaign for British withdrawal from its military occupation of the Six Counties.

On this 10th anniversary of the shootings of three unarmed IRA Volunteers by the SAS in Gibraltar we should especially remember one of the Gibraltar 3, Mairead Farrell, who played such a heroic role with other women prisoners in Armagh Jail in the early 1980s.

The creation and pursuit of the republican peace strategy centrally involves women members and supporters.

Republican women are working for the peace process not only because they are citizens who want to determine their own future, but because they are determined to reach their goal of a society which empowers its women citizens with equality and liberty.

The political partition of this island continues to be a major impediment to the advance of democracy and women's rights. Our comrades in Maghaberry Prison, two of whom are serving life sentences, continue to be denied equality in prison facilities, suffer extensive periods of lock-up and are still strip-searched. These women, as with all political prisoners, should be set free.

Vote Sinn Féin

VOTERS in Dublin North and Limerick East have an opportunity next Wednesday to vote for political change in Ireland.

Sinn Féin goes before the electorate in both constituencies on a platform of real social, economic and political change.

The benefits of a vibrant Irish economy have not been savoured by the wider population. What has instead happened is that the division of wealth between the rich and the poor has increased.

Both constituencies stand as examples of this growing division of wealth in Ireland: in Limerick East there are sprawling housing estates with unemployment as high as 70% and in Dublin North workers at Ryanair are struggling for basic trade union rights against one of the wealthiest companies in the country.

Sinn Féin has consistently supported and played an active part in all campaigns to eliminate poverty and to expose inequality and injustice.

Both Sinn Féin candidates - Paul Donnelly and Jenny Shapland - have a strong background as community activists and have worked along with others to tackle unemployment, environmental problems and drugs abuse in their respective constituencies.

Importantly ,the by-election gives voters in both constituencies the opportunity to endorse the Irish peace process by voting Sinn Féin.

A vote for Sinn Féin is both a vote for community empowerment and a vote for an alternative to the corruption that plighted the political scene in Ireland for too long.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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