5 April 2001 Edition

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Sinn Féin confident of first Larne seat

Loyalist hegemony in Larne is about to suffer its first major blow since the election of Independent Nationalist councillor John Turnley in the 1970s, as Sinn Féin attempts to win its first seat on the council in June's local government election.

Local woman Jeanette Graffin launched her campaign last Thursday, 29 March, when along with party chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin, she visited the East Antrim towns of Carrickfergus, Larne and Carnlough.

While in Larne, the Sinn Féin pair visited the Seacourt Estate, the scene of numerous loyalist attacks against Catholics over the past year in particular, to show their solidarity with beleaguered families there.

They visited the home of Adele Shaw, whose home has been attacked on numerous occasions and who along with her husband John, was almost killed in a loyalist bomb in the early 1990s.

At the start of this year, John Shaw narrowly missed death or serious injury when a booby trap bomb exploded near the railway track at Magheramourne as he dug for fishing bait. His companion suffered serious leg injuries in the ambush.

Graffin and McLaughlin acknowledged the fortitude of families like the Shaws, who refused to be intimidated out of their homes.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, the Sinn Féin candidate said she was confident the party would take a seat this time round.

She added: ``Sinn Féin would champion the rights of Larne nationalists and work to ensure that Catholics, nationalists and republicans in the East Antrim area could live their lives free from sectarian harassment.''

Meanwhile, on Wednesday 28 March, Sinn Féin assembly member John Kelly launched his campaign for the upcoming Westminster election. At a public meeting in the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle, Sinn Féin chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin also endorsed Charlie O'Neill as Sinn Féin candidate for Moyle council.

The meeting, chaired by ex-POW Sean Hil,l was attended by over 80 people.

McLaughlin laid out Sinn Féin's long term plans for the North Antrim area. He emphasised the need to build ``strong, solid structures with party activists working in and for the community if the party was to expand and grow''.

An Phoblacht
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