[Sinn Fein]

6 March 200

Sinn Fein Ard Fheis to be re-scheduled

Adams to address half-day Dublin conference on Saturday

Sinn Fein Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has announced the rescheduling of the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis which was due to take place in Dublin this weekend.

Instead, the party will hold a half-day conference for members from Dublin and a very limited number of Ard Chomhairle members.  There will be a keynote address by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP.

Speaking at a press conference in Dublin, Mr McLaughlin said that the party is in ongoing contact with the Department of Agriculture and will tailor plans for the weekend accordingly.

``Due to the ongoing threat of the spread of foot and mouth disease, the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis, which was due to take place in Dublin this weekend, will now be re-scheduled to a later date.

``The Ard Fheis is the main political highlight of the republican calendar.  It deals with the political direction of the party and the election of the party's ruling Ard Chomhairle.  It would also have been the springboard for the 32-County election drive by Sinn Fein activists ahead of parliamentary polls in the 26 Counties and Westminster and local elections in the Six Counties.''

More than 2,000 delegates and visitors were due to attend the weekend Ard Fheis along with speakers and guests from the United States, Australia, Britain and Europe, including the African National Congress, Pernille Frahm MEP representing the United Left Group in the European Parliament, United States Congressman Peter King, and Labour MP Tony Benn.

Mr McLaughlin added:

``Following consultation with the party membership and contact with the Department of Agriculture the party's officer board has decided to re-schedule this weekend's Ard Fheis.  The spread of foot and mouth disease into any part of Ireland would be a national disaster.  The most responsible thing that we can do with any potential foot and mouth outbreaks is to curtail movement of people around Ireland.  Not only have we rescheduled our Ard Fheis but many party meetings and mobilisations have also been cancelled.''

Next Saturday, Sinn Fein will hold a conference for Dublin delegates and the party leadership.  This will begin in the Davenport Hotel at 11am and will include a keynote address from party President Gerry Adams MP.

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