Irish Republican News · November 17, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Sinn Féin launch manifesto
Sinn Féin launch manifesto

Sinn Féin today launched its `Agenda for Government', which sets out the party's policies for the incoming Assembly and Executive.

Speaking at the launch, Martin McGuinness said the manifesto was ``the most comprehensive'' ever produced by the party.

``It sets out our policies for the incoming Assembly and Executive and our action plans in terms of the peace process and Irish Unity and Independence. It also reflects our record in Government, on the Executive, the all-Ireland bodies and the All-Ireland Ministerial Council and the lengthy negotiations, which have taken place with the Irish and British governments and other parties.''

The party's Chief Negotiator added, ``Sinn Féin is the engine for change. When others gave up, Sinn Féin did not. We demanded and then secured commitments from the British government on policing, demilitarisation, Irish language, equality and human rights. Sinn Féin also initiated an unprecedented dialogue with Unionism. We want to build on that in the time ahead. It is the key to future progress.

``A vote for Sinn Féin in this election is a vote for the peace process. It is an endorsement of our role in that process It is a vote for a New Ireland, a free, united and independent Ireland It is a vote for change. It is a vote for a republican alternative that puts equality and change at the heart of government.''

DUP `PREPARING FOR TALKS WITH SF'

With growing expectation that Sinn Féin and Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party could become the two largest parties in the new Assembly, a senior Sinn Féin figure has said the balance of power could be shifting in the DUP.

Foyle Assembly candidate Mitchel McLaughlin noted how senior DUP figures appeared to be preparing their voters for negotiations which would also involve Sinn Féin.

The Sinn Féin national chairman said: ``We have been watching the comments of people like Peter Robinson and Gregory Campbell, two of the DUP's leadership.

``They seem to be preparing their constituency for a move into mandated negotiations and they seem to be asking voters for a qualitatively different mandate.

``There seems to be a recognition that those negotiations are going to involve Sinn Féin. It is possible that, in the heat of the election, that subtle shift is being lost on people.''

Mr McLaughlin said the DUP appeared to be anxious to keep their leader the Reverend Ian Paisley out of the media spotlight, even if they did keep him in the public spotlight on the campaign trail.

``It looks like the party has decided that they are going to keep the Big Man (Paisley) out of the media eye as much as possible,'' he said.

``That could almost be a by-product of his age.

``There certainly seems to be a shift in the balance of power within the DUP as can be seen in several of the speeches and statements that their leadership have been making.''

Mr McLaughlin said the Good Friday Agreement remained the only game in town.

``Either the DUP are deluding themselves about that or they are engaging in fancy footwork,'' he said.

IDENTIFICATION FLAGGED

Mr McLaughlin also urged voters to ensure that they have the correct forms of identification to enable them to claim their vote in the Assembly elections. Mr. McLaughlin's call came the day before the deadline for claiming the special electoral identity card.

Mr. McLaughlin said: ``Given the absolute mess which the electoral office made in compiling the register under which the election will be fought it is crucial for those who have managed to access the register that they have the correct form of ID.

``Tomorrow is the final day for people wishing to claim the electoral identity card from the electoral office and I would urge those who do not have a passport, driving licence or Translink smart card to make sure that they claim their voter ID.''

© 2003 Irish Republican News