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Sinn Féin launches clár for 2005 Ard Fheis

3 March, 2005

Speaking at the launch of the Clár for the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said, "This weekend Sinn Fein will celebrate its centenary year Ard Fheis. It will be a weekend during which we will celebrate a 100 years of struggle for Irish independence and also plan for the future.

"The sub-theme of the weekend will be Building an Ireland of Equals. Our commitment to the peace process and to the advancement of our social and economic agenda of equality and justice will be to the fore in the deliberations of our delegates and activists.

"We expect the turnout this year to be in excess of last year‚s record attendance. Over the weekend we expect to have around 2000 delegates and visitors from across all 32 counties and abroad. We will discuss almost 400 motions, which is a substantial increase on last year and would indicate a healthy debate within a continually growing party on a wide range of issues.

"And while there will be a broad range of issues up for discussion, given the current situation, there will obviously be a heavy emphasis on rebuilding the peace process which has effectively been in free fall since the DUP and elements within the Irish Government walked away from it in early December.

"We do not underestimate the difficulties that currently exist. There is no escaping the deepening crisis in the peace process but Sinn Féin will not be found wanting in trying to resolve that crisis. We have never shied away from our responsibilities in all of this. We would ask that others do likewise.

"But this Ard Fheis is not going to be either negative nor downbeat. This is not an Ard Fheis at which republicans will be cowering for cover, as some pundits would have you believe. This will be an Ard Fheis attended by republicans confident of what we are about. Confident that the problems that affect the process today can be overcome. Confident that our social and economic agenda can garner increased support amongst the electorate. And we are confident that we can advance the cause of Irish reunification." ENDS

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