[Sinn Fein]

31 October 1997

Comhghairdeas Mary McAleese

Sinn Fein Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has extended a ``warm comhgairdeas'' to Mary McAleese on becoming Ireland's 8th President.

Mr. McLaughlin said:

``Mary McAleese has pulled off a stunning success in the face of a vicious dirty tricks smear campaign. She takes office at a difficult but enormously challenging time for the Irish people. I am confident that she will seek to build a bridge of understanding and trust and to embrace all the people of this island as equals''.

Mr McLaughlin added:

``The narrow, partitionist and neo-unionist approach of Mr Bruton and others during the campaign opened up an important debate on how we, the people of Ireland, see ourselves. Now that the election is over Sinn Fein hopes that this debate will continue in a more reasoned, inclusive and informative fashion.

``As we seek to move beyond conflict toward the new millenium it is important that we determine whether Ireland is a narrow, partitionist, factionalised and dysfunctional society, which has never come to terms with our own history, or do we have the potential to grow in an inclusive and equitable way ?

``Do we have an all-Ireland view which tries to embrace all the people of this island as equals ? Have we a vision of an island with people at peace with ourselves and our neighbours, developing our own society in a way which reflects our diversity as a nation ? Or does ``official'' Ireland stop at the border? These and many more questions need to be answered as we negotiate a new future for all the people of this island.''

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