[Sinn Fein]

28th May 2003

Sinn Fein Launch Candidate in Crotlieve By-Election

Speaking in Warrenpoint Town Hall on Tuesday night at the launch of the Sinn Fein candidate, Colm Burns, in the by-election for Crotlieve in south Down, Mitchel McLaughlin said;

``I am very pleased to have been invited here tonight to endorse the local Sinn Fein candidate, Colm Burns, in the by-election being held for Crotlieve. At local level this will give the electorate an opportunity to vote for the person and party they believe will best serve their interests on Newry & Mourne District Council. The fact that Sinn Fein is now the largest party on the council is proof that our councilors are giving effective leadership in dealing with the daily problems of constituents. It will also allow voters to register their disgust and opposition to the fact that the Assembly elections have been postponed and left them disenfranchised. A strong vote for Sinn Fein will send a message to both governments that we are the party they want to represent them in negotiations to further progress in the Peace Process.

``In the coming weeks and months ahead we intend to initiate contact with the Unionist community in order to clarify the Republican analysis of the political situation in Ireland. Our stated aim is to unite the people on this island and to establish a sovereign government free from foreign interference. Irish people, just like all other nations throughout the world, have the ability and moral right to govern themselves. We believe this can best be achieved by advancing the Peace Process and making political progress through the institutions set up under the Good Friday Agreement. We will reach out to Unionists to reassure them that we have no intention of treating them in the same fashion that Nationalists have had to endure under

``A Protestant Parliament for a Protestant people.

`` Our vision is a new Ireland based on equality for all where political and religious discrimination will be a thing of the past.''

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