1 May 2003 Edition

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Elected Representatives Forum up and running

The need for a coordinated and organised forum to facilitate the work of Sinn Féin Councillors, Assembly members, TDs and MPs has been identified by the party.

Late last year in Monaghan, Sinn Féin representatives from across the island met to discuss the structure of such a Forum and the Ard Chomhairle soon afterwards appointed Mary Lou McDonald to put that structure in place.

A fifteen member officer board has now been put in place. Meath County Councillor Joe Reilly has been selected as chairperson with Carrickmacross Councillor Matt Carthy and Tyrone Assembly member Francie Molloy acting as vice-chair and secretary of the new forum.

The forum officer board are currently devising a plan of work and strategy objectives for the upcoming year. The priority at this stage is ensuring that the forum is fully operational and in a position to offer necessary back-up to all elected representatives in the shortest possible time-frame.

LAMA conference

Last week Sinn Féin Councillors attending the LAMA (Local Authority Members Association) Annual Conference in Letterkenny met to discuss suggestions for Support Services and to identify the function of the Forum. The meeting, organised by Elected Representatives Forum, was also the first whereby Sinn Féin Councillors discussed the issues that were to be addressed at the conference and agreed an approach on these matters.

These crucial issues included Health, Education, Housing and Planning and the Sinn Féin members made a positive contribution to all those debates.

Plan of work

The success of the Forum will obviously only be seen by the implementation of its plan of work. The officer board, with the support of the Ard Comhairle, have already agreed that such a plan will include strategies to implement the following:

Mechanisms for political communication, co-ordination and development between all Sinn Féin elected representatives.
Active support for the development of coherent all Ireland political positions and initiatives.
Mechanisms to inform the development of party policy.
These key aspects of the Forum's work will, if implemented successfully, ensure that for the first time Sinn Féin representatives will have a structured medium to assist their work in local communities and their role in developing the all-Ireland agenda.

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