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International Women's Day: Sinn Féin backs new Women's Political Caucus

8 March, 2005

Sinn Féin has strongly backed and welcomed the formation of a cross-party Women's Political Caucus initiated and launched by the National Women's Council today. Attending the launch in the Mansion House on behalf of the party are Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald, MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew, Spokesperson on Equality, Human Rights and Women, Caitríona Ruane MLA, and Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD.

Speaking before the launch, the newly-elected Sinn Féin Party Chair Ms. McDonald said:

"I congratulate the National Women‚s Council for this bold initiative which will bring together women public representatives and women community leaders in a non-partisan way to work constructively together on behalf of women's equality. Given the ongoing massive under-representation of women in public life and in positions of power generally, I personally look forward to a positive engagement with my colleagues from other parties around this critical issue. I truly believe that as women with common interests we will be able to put party politics aside in the interests of the public good."

Michelle Gildernew, Sinn Féin's first elected woman MP in the Six Counties said:

"I particularly welcome that the Women‚s Council has decided to bring grassroots women community leaders together with those of us who are women elected public representatives, because their leadership is just as important and needs to be acknowledged. I also commend the Council for deciding to extend this initiative to be 32 county in scope. I look forward to the opportunity for positive engagement on women‚s issues with my counterparts in the 26 Counties, but also in the SDLP, the Women's Coalition, the Alliance Party, the UUP and the DUP. We and the women we represent have common interests in ending gender-based discrimination, and particularly the double inequality experienced by working class women.

Party Spokesperson on Women and Sinn Féin‚s Céad Bliain Chair Caitríona

Ruane MLA said:

"In this year of Sinn Féin‚s 100th anniversary we are remembering just how central women have been to our struggle, and how much leadership republican women have already contributed. But last month at our party's National Women's Conference we also examined just how little progress has been made on the 1995 Beijing Programme of Action, and we collectively resolved to work harder to bring women‚s equality back up to the top of the political agenda - for our own party, and in the mainstream."

Ard Chomhairle member and Party Spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said:

"We in Sinn Féin have learned firsthand that gender targets work. I am pleased not only to congratulate Mary Lou and Michelle on their re-election to the Ard Chomhairle this year, but to announce that for the very first time in the history of Sinn Féin, our newly elected Officer Board has more women than men and our new party Executive comfortably exceeds 30% women. This is a great birthday present for our party, and encourages us to press ahead towards an even more representative gender balance in our leadership in future."ENDS

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