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31 May 2001 Edition

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Decision time

This week has seen the political campaigns, North and South, spark into life.

In the North, the most striking example of this on the nationalist side of the fence was the increasingly heated exchanges in West Tyrone between sitting Assembly member Pat Doherty, who is adamant the Westminster seat will be his at a canter, and SDLP challenger Bríd Rogers, who has been equally vocal in her efforts to persuade voters, including pro-Agreement unionists, that the SDLP has a chance of taking the seat. Elsewhere, there is also a palpable air of optimism in the Sinn Féin camp, a real sense of a rising tide of support lifting all boats. Campaigners in Fermanagh/South Tyrone and Newry/Armagh are particularly confident.

In the 26 Counties, the establishment parties have turned on Sinn Féin as the most prominent voice of the No campaign against the Treaty of Nice. Increasingly bad tempered and off the wall accusations by Fianna Fáil ministers and even Bertie Ahern himself have shown that the government is rattled. They may still win the referendum, but their tactic of trying to sneak it through without a proper debate has blown up in their faces. Successive Sinn Féin representatives have appeared in print and on television and radio to challenge the spurious claim that the Treaty is merely about enlargement and poses no threat to neutrality. Gerry Adams put in a fine performance on Nice in a hugely entertaining episode of Questions and Answers on Monday, in which Brian Cowen was sullen and defensive and Fine Gael leader Michael Noonan almost anonymous, the last thing a politician wants to be.

Labour leader Ruairi Quin, canvassing for the SDLP, claimed this week that elected representatives in the North could never sit in Leinster House. What his words showed was that the spurious nationalism of the Labour Party and the `post nationalism' of the SDLP will not deliver the change that is needed. Sinn Féin is determined to make Ruairi eat those words.

Voters for Sinn Féin know what they will get - dedicated representatives working towards a united Ireland based on equality, justice and peace.

In the South the establishment has tried censoring and ignoring Sinn Féin; now they are attacking Sinn Féin but are losing the arguments.

Next Thursday, every voter in the 32 Counties will have an opportunity to go to the polls and make a difference. We would urge everyone to exercise that right and to vote for Sinn Féin in the Six-County local and Westminster elections, No on the Treaty of Nice, and Yes to the other two referendum questions.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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