[Sinn Fein]

9th January 2002

Anti-Sinn Fein Agenda and The Election

``There is no coincidence in the timing of the campaign conducted by Fianna Fail which is trying to deny Sinn Fein voters a mandate in this pre-election period.''

Sinn Fein election candidate and Ard Chomhairle member Vincent Wood was commenting on continuing and seemingly coordinated statements from Fianna Fail politicians - most recently Justice Minister John O Donaghue - which are calling the bone fides of Sinn Fein into question and ruling out negotiations for the formation of an incoming government.

``It is ironic in the extreme that Fianna Fail of all parties are trying to create preconditions and obstacles to the advance of Sinn Fein on the issue of association with armed groups. They themselves faced exactly the same charges when they decided to enter Leinster House in the late 1920's. They withstood that particular onslaught and went on to be the major government party in this state for the rest of the 20th century.

``How can it be right for Sinn Fein to play a full and necessary part in the government of one part of Ireland and be excluded from another? What game is Fianna Fail playing here?

``They have clearly taken a party political decision as part of their electoral strategy to try and scare people away from voting for Sinn Fein.

``We are making progress with conflict resolution on this island. Hypocritical attempts to exclude Sinn Fein fly the face of the core objective of all parties to the Good Friday Agreement of making politics work.

``Not only should people who feel inclined to vote Sinn Fein do so, but they should and must expect that their votes are considered as valid as the next person.

``Is this the way that the establishment parties are going to avoid facing local, regional and national issues? Can we expect anything more than the type of negative campaigning that they used during the Nice Treaty referendum? It didn't work then and it should not and must not work now.'' He said. ENDS

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