[Sinn Fein]

18th June 2003

Adams - Equality - Watchword For SF Civic Leaders

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP today visited the offices of Limavady District Council and was received by the Mayor Anne Brolly. Sinn Fein Councillor Anne Brolly is the first woman and the first republican to hold this post in Limavady. Speaking at the event the Sinn Fein President said:

``Last year Alex Maskey made history when he became the first Sinn Fein Mayor of the City of Belfast. A few short weeks ago Anne Brolly in an equally historic move became the first woman and the first republican to hold the Mayoralty in 0 this borough.

But as Alex Maskey demonstrated, achieving these positions, historic as they are, is not enough. It is about what you do when in office. It is about the contribution you can make.

Sinn Fein Councillors in these positions have a number of very basic guiding principles:

Sinn Fein will seek to use these positions to advance the work already being done to bring the different and diverse sections of our community closer together. Our Councillors, our Mayors and our Chairs wish to build bridges across which people can walk towards each other.

Despite the recent difficulties in the peace process, we are in a new era as a result of the Good Friday Agreement. We are now in a new era here in Limavady where for the first time a Sinn Fein member holds the top civic position.

Anne Brolly's family is rooted in this area, in this community. She has invested a lot in trying to make this area a better place to live. Anne and her family like countless other republican families across the six counties have also suffered >from inequality and from the injustice of internment without trial. But we are not bitter people. Anne and her Sinn Fein colleagues on the councils across the north demonstrate that each day.

Anne in a few short weeks has already demonstrated by her actions that she is prepared to take risks for peace. That she is prepared to reach out to political opponents and enemies and to show by deeds as well as words that she genuinely 0 and sincerely wants to be a Mayor for all the people of this borough.

Equality will be the pivot upon which the offices of Sinn Fein Mayors and Chairs rotate. No one here in Limavady or anywhere else should fear equality. Nationalists and Republicans were excluded from civic positions here for years. Everyone is a winner as far as equality is concerned.

Implementing equality is not easy. It present political challenges. But it is a indispensable part of the Agreement and the changes which flow from it. We as Irish republicans have to come to terms with the cultural identity of the unionist and protestant people and the manner in which they express their identity. Equality is indivisible. We need to seek as much agreement as possible and where that is not achievable then peaceful co-exsistence in disagreement.

Recently I announced that Alex Maskey would head up our ongoing engagement with the unionist community. The Sinn Fein Mayors, Chairs and Vice-Chairs across the north will play a crucial role in this. We are serious about this project. We are individually and together going through a period of change in our society. It is important that unionism joins with the rest of us in managing that process.''

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