New Republican Assembly members profiled
New Republican Assembly members profiled

Philip McGuigan -- North Antrim

Philip Mc Guigan is 29 years old, married and has 4 children. A former student of Queens University, Philip is a full time Sinn Fein activist and sat on the party's Ard Chomhairle (National Executive).

He is a keen supporter of Irish culture and his children are being educated through Irish. In his Gaelic football-playing days Philip won many honours including 2 All-Ireland Hogan Cup medals, numerous Ulster and County medals.

Philip was elected to Ballymoney Council in 2001 with the highest vote of any of the 16 elected councillors. He was recently appointed the party's spokesperson on the issue of Truth recovery and victims.

Philip is a hard working Councillor and as Sinn Fein's North Antrim representative has been vocal in challenging political and social inequality in this constituency.

Caitriona Ruane -- South Down

Caitriona Ruane is a deeply committed human rights and community activist and is married with two daughters and lives in Louth.

A fluent Spanish speaker, she worked for a US-based aid foundation from 1983-87 in Central America. On her return to Ireland she worked full-time for Trocaire before co-founding the Centre for Research and Documentation, which studied conflict resolution in South Africa and Central America and hosted Nobel Peace Prize winners (Rigoberta Menchu from Guatemala and Jose Ramos Horta from East Timor) on a visit to Ireland. Caitriona was an international observer for the first free and fair elections in South Africa that saw Nelson Mandela become President.

She was a member of the Committee on the Administration of Justice and organised the Belfast Forum on Policing conference in 1994. She has lobbied the UN and the EU on human rights in the North and was involved in organising inquiries and compiling reports into the deaths of Fergal Caraher (shot dead by a British soldier) and Patrick Shanaghan (a victim of collusion between loyalists and state forces).

From 1997-2001 Caitriona was the Director of Feile an Phobail (the West Belfast Festival and Europe's biggest Community Festival) and a founder of the St Patrick's Day Parade, during which time she took unionists in the city hall to court on grounds of funding discrimination.

In 2000 President Mary McAleese presented Caitriona with the Aisling Person of the Year Award.

A Gaelgeoir and formerly a member of the Comhairle na GaelscolaIochta executive (which promotes and develops Irish language schools) Caitriona's two children (aged 11 and 7) have attended an Irish language school in County Down since they were three years of age.

More recently, Caitriona has been chairperson of the `Bring Them Home' campaign, working for the release of the three Irish men imprisoned in Colombia on false charges. She has travelled to Bogota on sixteen occasions, coordinating the prisoners' legal teams in Ireland and Colombia and organising international observers for the trial, which concluded in August.

Willie Clarke -- North Down

Councillor Willie Clarke, a native of Newcastle, is married to Paula who has recently given birth to their daughter Tara. He was elected to serve on Down District Council in 2001 when he topped the poll. He is currently employed by an environmental/conservation organisation which is working to preserve the natural beauty of the Mourne Mountains.

Willie has held a number of key positions on Down District Council. A representative on the ARC 21 Committee, he is part of a group tasked with devising a strategy for waste management in Down District which must meet European Directives to reduce landfill sites. He is the Vice Chair of the Cultural and Economic Development Committee and was previously chairperson of Corporate Services. Part of his remit was to serve on the NILGA executive that co-ordinates environmental policy between the 26 councils in the north. He believes a holistic approach to tourism must be developed on an all Ireland basis

A committed environmental campaigner, Willie has played an active role in the preservation of the Mournes and the development of the region as part of an all Ireland tourist destination. He sits on the project board of Down District Council, which is promoting three capital projects for South Down: The building of Council offices on the Downshire site in Downpatrick, the construction of a new leisure complex for Newcastle and the redevelopment of the central promenad

As a young adult himself, Willie is acutely aware of the issues facing young people in Down District prioritising issues such as the provision of better leisure facilities. Recently he has spearheaded a local community initiative to tackle the rise in drug abuse in Newcastle.

John O'Dowd -- Upper Bann

Chair of Upper Bann Sinn Fein and a member of the party's Six County Executive, John is leader of the Sinn Fein group on Craigavon Council.

A diligent constituency worker he has a proven record of representing the electorate on Craigavon Council. As well as acting as a Council Account Scrutineer, Cllr. O'Dowd is a member of the powerful Policy and Resources Committee and the Development, the Environment and the Public Services Liaison Committees.

As a Councillor he sits on the Craigavon Local Strategy Partnership body which is responsible for the distribution of European peace money.

John is active in community politics as a board member of a number of community projects, an advisor to the Community Association and as a school Governor.

Francie Brolly -- East Derry

Francie has been a political activist for over thirty years. He was a prominent member of the Civil Rights Movement and was present on Bloody Sunday. He was elected to Limavady Borough Council in 2001.

He comes from a well-known Dungiven family.

Francie is a renowned musician who, with his wife Ann, has played across the island of Ireland and beyond.

He is deeply involved with a number of cultural organisations and has been active in the promotion of the Irish language. He is a long-standing member of the GAA.

Geraldine Dougan -- Mid Ulster

Geraldine Dougan is a long time resident of Maghera, as well as having to busy herself with the everyday requirements of raising a family of 5 children aged between 9 and 15 is also active in the campaign for pre-school education provision and an avid GAA supporter. She is also a member of the Sinn Fein Mid-Ulster Women's Forum.

Thomas Hugh O'Reilly -- Fermanagh/South Tyrone

A Councillor for the Erne East area, Thomas is a full-time youth and community activist who has been particularly active on the issue of youth service provision.

A member of the Western Education and Library Board he has also been active in promoting the need for a particular focus on tourism in Fermanagh.

Pat O'Rawe -- Newry/Armagh

A married mother of five children Pat first stood for election in 2001 when she successfully contested the Armagh and City District Council elections. She was elected as the first Sinn Fein of Armagh in June.

She was a member of a key party delegation to Brussels earlier this year to hold discussions with senior EU officials on Sinn Fein's proposals for CAP reform.

A hard working party official and local Councillor Pat currently acts as Personal Assistant to Newry/Armagh MLA Pat McNamee.

Davy Hyland -- Newry/Armagh

Councillor Davy Hyland has just completed a very successful year as Chairperson of Newry and Mourne District Council.

A local school teacher, he has topped the poll every time since his election in 1993.Davy works closely with community associations throughout the area and has campaigned tirelessly for the retention of services at Daisy Hill hospital. He is also leading the party's opposition to the introduction of water charges.

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© 2003 Irish Republican News