[Sinn Fein]

25 September 2001

Building an Ireland of Equals

McLaughlin launches Ard Fheis Clár

Sinn Fein Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin this morning launched the Clár (programme) for the party's Ard Fheis which will take place this coming weekend, Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th September.  Mr. McLaughlin said:

``This Ard Fheis is taking place against the backdrop of the appalling tragedy which occurred in the United States and their ongoing efforts to find survivors.  It is also taking place against the backdrop of a growing crisis in the peace process and the third suspension, in three years, of the political institutions by the British Secretary of State John Reid.

``At the weekend more than 2,000 Sinn Fein members from throughout Ireland will meet for our annual Ard Fheis, making it one of the biggest Ard Fheis's in recent years.  We will also have representatives from many Embassies including the US, Australia, South Africa and Russia and guest speakers from the ANC, PLO and Basque Country.

``The theme for this year's Ard Fheis is ``Building an Ireland of Equals'' and the content of the Clár both reflects the vibrancy of the party in local communities and the increase in our representation in elected chambers across the country.  Many sections of the Clár deal with a wide range of social and economic issues including health, housing and education.  We also address the issue of asylum seekers and refugees and the ongoing development of the party.  

``On Sunday there will be a particular focus on building political strength and on the options facing us regarding participation in government should we receive sufficient seats.  

``One of the main debates of the weekend will be on ongoing crisis in the peace process and what now needs to happen.

``We will also be launching four policy documents:

``The one central theme that will come from this weekend's Ard Fheis is the leading role that Sinn Fein is taking in terms of the peace process and building a credible alternative in Irish politics.''ENDS  

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