[Sinn Fein]

17th September 2002

Ó Caolain leads delegation of SF TDs to Stormont

``Irish unity should be political priority of all'' - Ó Caoláin

The leader of the Sinn Fein TDs in the Dáil, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, is today heading a delegation of the republican Deputies to Belfast where they are visiting the beleaguered Short Strand area and meeting their colleagues in the Assembly. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``This is the first time the Sinn Fein TDs have visited the Assembly since we increased our strength to five deputies in the General Election. We were elected as members of an all-Ireland party, the only party organised throughout the 32 Counties and we view this as central to our political project.

``Our purpose here today is to emphasise our determination to push forward the all-Ireland agenda and our work for Irish reunification. This is not the task of Sinn Fein alone ? we believe it should be the political priority of every party which professes the belief that a united Ireland is in the best interests of all who share this island. Today we are advancing our work as a 32-County party by strengthening co-ordination between our elected representatives in the Dáil and the Assembly. We will continue that work in the Dáil itself, pushing for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and a more pro-active approach by the Irish Government. This should include early progress on Six-County representation in the Oireachtas.

``The Sinn Fein TDs are also here to show solidarity with those communities who are worst affected by sectarian attacks. The people of Short Strand have been under a virtual siege for months. They and other communities in North and South Belfast have borne the brunt of this loyalist onslaught with great patience and discipline. We applaud the work of all those who are attempting to bring an end to violence in interface areas.''

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