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Gerry Adams visits Magilligan to press for demilitarisation

17 November, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP today visited the University of Ulster at Coleraine where he spoke to members of Ógra Sinn Féin and local party activists. He was met by party colleague Councillor Billy Leonard.

After speaking at the campus Mr. Adams travelled to Magilligan Point where he spoke to local journalists about Sinn Féin's support for the transfer of Magilligan Prison and the demilitarisation of local lands used as a British Army firing range.

Speaking in the University Mr. Adams said:

"I believe that we now have a great opportunity to move forward and build on the potential that recent initiatives by the IRA have provided. The challenge for political leaderships is to take risks and move beyond old slogans and positions. Republicans have demonstrated that we can do this. The challenge for the current leadership of Unionism is whether they can meet the challenges of the present and move forward with us, in trying to build a better future for all of us, particularly our young people. That means building an economy which creates employment for young people; it means providing a decent level of education, for all our children, a decent health service for all our people and a decent home for all our people to live in. There is enough wealth generated on this island to allow us to do all these basic things. What is lacking is political will.

"There is an urgent and pressing need for a process of national reconciliation. We need to reach out to each other. Listen to what each other has to say. There must be a genuine and enlightened dialogue between all of us who share this island. It is our responsibility, especially those of us from this generation, who have lived through the dark days of our past to make sure we bequeath a bright and promising future to our children. I believe future generations will not judge us kindly if we fail to do so."

Afterwards speaking at Magilligan point the Sinn Féin leader said:

"Magilligan Prison should be closed and the nearby British Army firing range should be demilitarised as part of a strategic plan to maximise the development of the tourism potential of this area. Recently Robin Masefield, head of the Prison Service, told Limavady Borough Council that a strategic review was underway. It seems to us very logical that a beautiful area such as this, with a popular ferry link to Donegal and pivotal to the Tourism Masterplan should, for the first time ever, get the chance to maximise its undoubted tourism potential. The removal of the prison and its transfer elsewhere will not see any significant job losses to the local economy. On the contrary moving the prison and the demilitarisation of the firing range would create the possibility of many new jobs for the area.

Local councillors Paddy Butcher and Billy Leonard who have led the Sinn Féin campaign in Limavady and Coleraine Councils said they were "delighted that the Sinn Féin President had visited the area with them and is fully behind their campaign.

The two Councillors said:

"The potential for Magilligan, East Derry and far beyond is immense. Sinn Féin knows that tourism and job creation are severely impeded by the prison and the firing range. We are happy that Gerry Adams has endorsed our campaign which is based on the opinions of many local people. We will continue to work for the de-militarisation of the area and the closure of the prison." ENDS

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