Sinn Féin targets Belfast gains

Sinn Féin could take a third of Belfast's Assembly seats in this month's election, party leader Mr Gerry Adams has claimed.

Addressing a campaign launch for nine candidates in the four Belfast constituencies, Mr Adams said strong campaigning on the streets and disciplined transferring between candidates was the key to maximising the Sinn Féin representation.

Speaking in the Waterfront Hall under a banner which proclaimed ``A city of equals'', Mr Adams was accompanied by his eight running mates and by the party's chief negotiator Mr Martin McGuinness.

He said: ``We are standing right across Belfast. We have five MLAs at the moment. We want eight. That's a big, big job. We also want to see Paul Butler coming through in Lagan Valley, which just touches on a part of Belfast.''

``We are fighting this as a city-wide campaign - South, North, East and West. Right across the city, we are going to see an extra person - Kathy Stanton in North Belfast to join Gerry Kelly. We are going to see Alex Maskey elected in South Belfast. We are going to see Joe O'Donnell increasing his vote in the east of the city and in West Belfast, our aim is to win five seats.''

Mr Adams contrasted Sinn Féin fortunes now with the early 1980s.

``Much has changed in Belfast over the past 20 years, since Alex Maskey became the first Sinn Féin councillor in this city.

``Since then Sinn Féin has become the largest political party in Belfast and our track record is there for everyone to see.''

He added: ``We delivered in our communities, in City Hall, in the Assembly and in the peace process.''

In the 2001 local government election Sinn Féin received 28.4 per cent of the city's vote, making it the largest single grouping on Belfast City Council with 14 seats.

The Ulster Unionists secured 18.3 per cent with 11 councillors, the Democratic Unionists got 18.1 per cent with 10 seats and the SDLP had nine councillors elected with 17.4 per cent.

Urgent Appeal

Despite increasing support for Irish freedom and unity, we need your help to overcome British and unionist intransigence. We can end the denial of our rights in relation to Brexit, the Irish language, a border poll and legacy issues, with your support.

Please support IRN now to help us continue reporting and campaigning for our national rights. Even one pound a month can make a big difference for us.

Your contribution can be made with a credit or debit card by clicking below. A continuing monthly donation of £2 or more will give you full access to this site. Thank you. Go raibh míle maith agat.

© 2003 Irish Republican News