[Sinn Fein]

17 December 1997

Sinn Fein congratulates new ANC president

Sinn Fein Chairperson Mitchel McLoughlin, speaking from the ANC conference in South Africa today congratulated Thabo Mbeiki on his election as President of the ANC and looked forward to building the close relationship which already exists with President Mandela and the ANC.

Mr. McLaughlin said:

``I congratulate President Mbeiki on his election as President of the ANC. He is indeed a worthy successor to Nelson Mandela. I look forward to building on the relationship we have with President Mandela and the ANC.

``When he spoke last night, President Mbeiki made clear his interest in Ireland as he quoted from the W.B. Yeats poem `Easter 1916.' He named all the leaders of the Easter Rising and spoke of England's destructive role in Ireland. He used the Yeat's poem with its line, A Terrible Beauty is Born, to illustrate the ANC's struggle. He spoke of how Mandela and the ANC leaders had not allowed themselves to be either broken or hardened by their experiences under apartheid but had used them to more forward determined to build the new South Africa.

``Irish republicans have always taken great inspiration from the courage of the people of South Africa. This reflects not just their success in attaining freedom but their present work in reconstruction and reconciliation. This is something that all the parties in Ireland can learn from.''

``During the week the Sinn Fein delegation have met representatives of political parties from throughout the African continent, learning from their experience of overcoming colonialism.''

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