[Sinn Fein]

23rd May 2003

Sinn Fein confident of election success in Crotlieve By-election

Speaking ahead of the launch of his election campaign to be held in Warrenpoint town hall on Tuesday evening, the Crotlieve by-election Sinn Fein candidate Colm Burns said he was confident of increasing Sinn Fein representation on Newry and Mourne council. Mr. Burns said:

``I am delighted to have been nominated by my party colleagues in Sinn Fein to stand in the upcoming by-election in the Crotlieve constituency of South Down. For the past 21 years I have lived and worked in the area and I am acutely aware of the issues and concerns that are important to the electorate of this constituency.

``The current infighting within the SDLP has burdened the voters of Newry & Mourne with the unnecessary expense of a by-election and reflects a party that has not only failed the people of Crotlieve but is in disarray in every constituency throughout the six counties. This constituency up until now has perhaps been regarded as an SDLP stronghold, yet for too long the towns and villages of the district have been hampered by a lack of investment that would have allowed the region to achieve it's true economic and tourist potential. Our local farming community is in decline and has suffered due to a lack of a coherent strategy for rural economic development. It is now time for change.

``There are a number of vitally important issues affecting the people of this constituency. For many years, profit has been the over-riding consideration in the planning and building of houses and provision must now be made that allows local people the opportunity to set up home in the locality. Following the recent closures of big name employers in the area such as Dunne Stores, encouraging economic investment in Crotlieve must be made a priority.

``Crotlieve is an area of outstanding natural beauty and the tourist potential of the Mournes, Carlingford Lough and the Cooley Peninsula in North Louth has never been properly marketed or fully exploited. I am therefore very supportive of my party's continuing efforts to secure capital funding for a link bridge that would span Carlingford Lough at Narrow Water which I believe has the potential to rejuvenate the town of Warrenpoint and the surrounding hinterland.

``Nationally, Sinn Fein is the driving force in the peace process and our aim is to transform society throughout the island of Ireland by working for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, Irish unity, independence and equality for all.

``With 13 elected Councillors sitting on Newry & Mourne District Council Sinn Fein is providing strong, effective leadership within the local community and I am hopeful that following this by-election we will have an even stronger representation.''

Endorsing the candidature of Colm Burns, South Down MLA, Mick Murphy added:

``Last Wednesday afternoon, I accompanied Colm, Martin McGuiness MP and Conor Murphy MLA to sign his nomination papers in the presence of Thomas McCall, Chief Executive Officer of Newry Council. I believe this delegation reflects the unity of purpose and confidence Sinn Fein has in our candidate and I am sure that Colm is set to become our newest elected representative to be returned to Newry and Mourne District Council come polling day on the 18th of June.

``I am also delighted to welcome Mitchel McLaughlin, who will be the guest speaker at the launch of Colm's candidature in Warrenpoint Town Hall on Tuesday evening.  This I believe, is a further indication of Sinn Fein's commitment to the electorate of Crotlieve and South Down in general and reflects how united and focused our party is at both local and national level.

``Sinn Fein is the largest nationalist party in the six counties and people across Ireland are voting for our candidates in ever increasing numbers. This is one reason why the British government postponed the Assembly elections that were due to be held on Thursday 29th May and in doing so denied the electorate their right to make a judgement on the political parties involved in the peace process.

``By electing Colm Burns on the 18th of June, the electorate of Crotlieve can give voice to the wide spread anger felt by the nationalist community throughout the 6 counties who have yet again been disenfranchised by a British administration arrogant enough to believe they know what is best for the Irish people.''

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