14th May 2002
PEACE PROCESS: SINN FÉIN'S GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT
Speaking at a press conference in Dublin today attended by the Sinn Fein national leadership, the party's Chief Negotiator, Martin McGuinness MP, said that Friday's election will undoubtedly lead to increased Sinn Fein representation and help to bring about lasting change in Irish society. Mr McGuinness said:
``A vote for Sinn Fein in this election is a vote for peace. It is an endorsement of our peace strategy, a declaration of support for a peaceful united Ireland, a call for more effective representation in the Dail, and will help build a radical alternative across the entire country.
``Sinn Fein is the only all-Ireland party contesting this election. Unlike any other party, we will have representatives in the Dáil, the Six County Assembly and Executive, and the All-Ireland Ministerial Council.
``In the Six Counties, Sinn Fein is the leading nationalist party. We have four Westminster MPs, 18 MLAs, 118 councillors, and two ministers in the Executive and the all-Ireland Ministerial Council. Here we currently have one TD and 57 councillors. This is a formidable line-up.
``Across the island, Sinn Fein commands more electoral support than the SDLP, the Labour Party, the PDs and the Green Party. And that support is set to rise during this election.
``Sinn Fein is proud of the progress we have made in recent years. We are particularly pleased about the central role we are playing in the peace process. I believe the peace process is Sinn Fein's greatest achievement. But there is a lot more work to be done we are seeking support to continue that work.
``Sinn Fein brings this same determination, commitment and dedication to our work of building an Ireland of equals.
``That means vigourously pursuing our all-Ireland agenda. It means looking for practical opportunities to bring both parts of the island's political system together on an range of economic, social and cultural matters. This can best be done through developing and expanding the all-Ireland Ministerial Council.
``Sinn Fein wants to give a voice to those who have benefited from the prosperity of the economic boom. Many people's incomes may have improved but there is a downside.
``The Fianna Fail/PD government and before them the Rainbow coalition has mismanaged the wealth which has been created during the last ten years of plenty. They failed to use it to upgrade the health service. They have not used it to build an effective roads and public transport network. They have left families struggling in the absence of quality or affordable childcare facilities. And they have plunged us into the biggest housing crisis in the history of this state.
``Sinn Fein also want to provide leadership to those who were not reached by the Celtic Tiger's prosperity in cities, towns and villages around the country. They are on the margins of society through no fault of their own.
``A society has to be judged not just by how well it treats those who can take advantage of good economic times but how the rest of our people are treated.
``In this election I have been at pains to point out to people that Sinn Fein stands for something new, for an alternative, for a fresh approach. We stand for change.
``We are a people-centred party and we are motivated by a philosophy which places the needs of the people in front of every other consideration.
``I am confident we have delivered the republican message of change, of an `alternative' to the electorate. And I am confident that they will respond in kind by electing Sinn Fein TDs to Leinster House.''
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