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Sinn Féin members comment on the death of Michael Ferguson

25 September, 2006

Sinn Féin Assembly group leader, Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd has led tributes to Michael Ferguson following his sudden death last night.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"Michael brought a huge energy and determination to his work. He championed the educational rights of children and young people and was instrumental in the campaign against cuts to education services.

"He will be missed by everyone who was part of the Assembly team and on behalf of them I want to extend my deepest sympathies to Louise, his children and his family and friends.

Lisburn Council Group leader Cllr Paul Butler, who worked with Michael on Lisburn Council, added:

"Michael was a life long republican with a huge commitment to the goal of Irish reunification and the realisation of social justice and equality.

"Michael Ferguson challenged inequality and discrimination at the heart of Lisburn Council and was a thorn in the side of all who opposed equality. He also built alliances across the political spectrum, particularly in relation to the cuts to education services.

Sinn Féin West Belfast Councillor Marie Cush also paid tribute to the work of Michael Ferguson. She said:

"Michael never lost sight of the people he represented. He was hugely committed and delivered day and night for the people of West Belfast.

"He was instrumental in securing financial assistance to the people of Ballymurphy at a time of great uncertainty that will particularly support our local young people.

"No problem was small and no mountain was too big. Michael will be missed by everyone who knew him." ENDS

Note to Editors

Married with four children Michael Ferguson has been active in community and republican politics for most of his adult life. He graduated from Queens University in 1989 and was elected to Lisburn Council in 1999.

Michael was 53. He was receiving treatment for testicular cancer.

He was elected the Assembly at the last election and is the party spokesperson on Education and led the campaign against education cuts.

He has held a number of influential positions on Lisburn Council in the face of unionists' threats and intimidation. As a Councillor and committed community activist Michael had led a number of successful campaigns on housing, traffic calming and against the siting of mobile phone masts in residential areas.

He has also represented Sinn Féin on the all Ireland body charged with administering European funding. Through this position he has secured funding for disadvantaged communities throughout the Six Counties. He also represented the party on the Regional Strategic Partnership Board and was the current vice chair of the West Belfast Partnership Board.

He recently helped secure £186,000, for the Ballymurphy community, for the delivery of a intervention programme to support young people in the area.

Michael is well known as a founder member of the West Belfast Safer Streets Campaign Group. Through this work he has challenged anti-social behaviour, developed initiatives to tackle crime and created opportunities for young people to contribute positively to the community.

Michael has a personal interest in environmental and horticultural issues and has won a number of awards for environmental improvement schemes.

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