[Sinn Fein]

29th April 2002

Sinn Fein put equality centre stage in this election campaign

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP speaking at the launch of the party's General Election campaign at the party's Head Office in Dublin said: ``Sinn Fein is contesting this election as part of our effort to strengthen the peace process and under the banner `Building an Ireland of Equals'. Equality is central to what we believe in and we will be putting this issue centre stage during the campaign.''

Mr. Adams said:

``The big difference between this and previous election campaigns is the Sinn Fein challenge to the other parties. Sinn Fein has been central to the agenda for change on this island.

``We are now the largest nationalist party in the north, the only all-Ireland party on the island, and we are standing 37 candidates in 34 constituencies in this election.

``Sinn Fein is now poised to make a significant breakthrough and translate our potential into political strength in Leinster House.

``We are contesting this election as part of our effort to strengthen the peace process and under the banner OBuilding an Ireland of Equals'.

``The issue of equality is central to what we believe in and we will be challenging all of the other parties and putting this issue centre stage during this campaign.

``So far this election has been dominated by bickering and posturing between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Their manifestos are classic examples of the politics of election promises. But in between elections over the last ten years Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, along with their surrogates in the PD and Labour parties have managed to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. They have invested in the wealthy, instead of health, education and infrastructure. They have had their opportunity and they failed.

``All of this needs to be changed. Everyone needs to be treated as equals.

``So Sinn Fein will be seeking support for:

``Clearly, if there is to be the type of fundamental changes that are required; if a fair and equal society is to be created, then there needs to be an alternative to those conservative parties which have dominated politics in this state since partition.

``That alternative has to bring together all those progressive elements which want to shape an Ireland of equals.

``Many people are disillusioned by the way politics have been conducted here. By the revelations of corruption and the increase in poverty. Others are active in the community and voluntary sector. Some are part of the other political parties. All of us must find some way of coming together to transform this island, to share the wealth and to uplift the disadvantaged and the deprived.

``Sinn Fein does not pretend to have all of the answers but we do want to be the lead party in offering an alternative vision and we are committed to help bring it about. That is what Irish republicanism is really about.

``So our project in this election is about building the peace process, building Irish unity, while at the same time shaping the agenda so that this society can go forward on the principles of social and economic equality.

``I have no doubt from the response I and my colleagues have been receiving that there is huge goodwill towards Sinn Fein.

``Our task in the next few weeks is to convert that good will into votes. I am confident we will do that.''

Sinn Fein Press Office, 44 Parnell Square, Dublin 1
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