4 February 1999 Edition

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Trinity welcomes Sinn Fein

Sinn Féin is in the process of forming a cumann in Trinity College following the recent overturn of a long-standing ban on the party in Ireland's oldest university.

In one of their first events Mitchel McLaughlin addressed a meeting of a hundred students in the College last Thursday on the genesis of the peace process and some of the problems currently delaying the implementation of the Agreement. While giving a frank insight into the difficulties McLaughlin expressed a strong confidence that the objectives of the peace strategy would be achieved.

In response to a question regarding the dangers of Sinn Fein's radicalism becoming diluted in a pan-nationalist alliance, McLaughlin pointed out that the consensus on the peace process did not mean that republicans agreed on every aspect of every policy with other nationalists. It was, rather, a practical and effective way to achieve certain common objectives.

Other questions touched on the prospects of Sinn Fein growth in the twenty six counties and again McLaughlin focused on how Sinn Fein ought best to use its likely enhanced strength. There was no question of the party ``selling out'' in the manner of other parties of the ``left'' who had gone into coalition, but at every stage the party must act in accordance both with its strength and how best the interests of its supporters might be served at the time.

Interestingly, and in sharp contrast to what is being promoted by certain elements in this state, there was little sign that Trinity students see decommissioning as a sine qua non for progress on implementing the Agreement.

Gerry McGeough chaired the meeting and afterwards a number of those present applied to join Sinn Fein.

The Garda Special Branch monitored what was an open meeting of university students. A Sinn Fein spokesperson said the fact that they were there at all might be of some interest to the college authorities who might ponder its implications for freedom of debate within the precincts of the university.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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