Irish Republican News · January 14, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
SF selects Westminster candidates

Sinn Féin has confirmed Caitriona Ruane will attempt to seize the South Down Westminster seat from the SDLP’s Eddie McGrady in this year’s British general election.

Meanwhile, party negotiator Martin McGuinness MP was re-selected as the party’s candidate for Mid-Ulster, and Pat Doherty MP reselected in West Tyrone.

In her acceptance speech, Ms Ruane said COunty Down had “a proud Republican tradition dating back to the 1798 rebellion when men and women fought and died for Irish freedom,” in common with her home county of Mayo.

“South Down has many social and economic problems. Not surprisingly, like anywhere else in the North, there are political divisions and competing aspirations but none that cannot be mutually accommodated within the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Féin has fought long and hard to reverse the injustices of partition. We were able to do so because the electorate has empowered us to do so. It is only now that the British and the unionists have started to take our community seriously.

“The events of the past three months prove the DUP have still some way to go before they are prepared to share power with Republicans. Yet massive progress has been made and Ian Paisley now leads a party that has accepted the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement and its all-Ireland architecture.

“For the past 17 years Eddie McGrady has held this seat in what has often been described as the SDLP’s ‘jewel in the crown’. That jewel has lost much of its sparkle and with the continued dedication, hard work and commitment we can, in the centenary year of Sinn Féin’s formation, win next year’s Westminster election and significantly increase our representation at Council level.”

Ms Ruane has previously acted as Director of the West Belfast festival and a founder of the St Patrick’s Day Parade. More recently, she has led the ‘Bring Them Home’ campaign for three Irish miscarriage of justice victims in Colombia.

In the 2001 general election, Mr McGrady had a 13,858 majority over his Sinn Féin rival, Mick Murphy, winning 46% vote to Murphy’s 20%.

In the 2003 assembly election, that gap had narrowed to 3,915 votes on a lower turnout, with Ruane winning an Assembly seat at the SDLP’s expense.

Meanwhile, Mid-Ulster MP Martin McGuinness was reselected at his Party’s selection Convention on Thursday night. In 2001, he comfortably captured the seat from Willie McCrea of Ian Paisley’s DUP by 51% to 31%.

“I can assure you that the conduct of this election will see us come under a full frontal attack from all quarters,” he said.

“The last couple of weeks is only a sample of what our political opponents in both Britain and Ireland will throw at us between now and May. But we will go toe-to-toe with them and they will not defeat the republican Peace Strategy. Nor will they stop the march towards a United Ireland.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News