Irish Republican News · December 29, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
100th anniversary of Sinn Fein

Two republican political parties are preparing to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Sinn Fein.

(Provisional) Sinn Fein, led by Gerry Adams, and Republican Sinn Fein, led by Ruairi O Bradaigh, are both marking the foundation of the Sinn Fein movement in 1905 by Arthur Griffith.

Sinn Fein are to use centenary celebrations next year to embark on a major recruitment drive on both sides of the Irish border.

The party is planning rallies, concerts, exhibitions and leadership tours across Ireland throughout 2005 as well as events in Britain, Europe, Australia and other parts of the world.

South Down Assembly member Caitriona Ruane, a member of the party committee responsible for the celebrations, said: “This is a huge undertaking for us.

“The last six months have been spent preparing for the centenary celebrations.

“A programme will be launched in January which will include events like a special women`s conference in Newry in February and a massive centenary celebration in Dublin`s City West Hotel which holds around 2,500 people.

“There will also be concerts featuring major artistes and events on a local level such as leadership tours, exhibitions and a series of murals throughout the 32 counties.

“We are organising events in England, Scotland and Wales. Gerry Adams is going to take part in an event in Europe and we are also planning events in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

“The ard fheis (party conference) in March will be different to any of those we have had before. There will also be events in colleges and universities and the centenary will be the platform for a recruitment drive.”

Sinn Fein was founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, and has been led by Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins. Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael trace their roots to the organisation.

The party split in 1970 over the issue of whether Parliaments in Belfast and Dublin should be recognised by its members.

Opponents of the move walked out and formed their own organisation, Provisional Sinn Fein, in Dublin.

Those who remained formed Official Sinn Fein which later mutated into the Workers’ Party and ultimately merged with the Irish Labour Party.

In 1986, Provisional Sinn Fein (now Sinn Fein) suffered its own split at a conference in Dublin, with Ruairi O Bradaigh leading a faction out of the party after a majority of delegates backed a proposal that the party should sit in the Dublin Parliament if it won seats.

Mr O Bradaigh and his supporters formed Republican Sinn Fein, and also lays claims to the mantle of the oldest party in Ireland.

Sinn Fein is now the largest nationalist party in the north and is growing in the South. It has 2 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament), 232 councillors throughout Ireland, 24 members of the (suspended) Belfast Assembly, five TDs in the Dublin parliament and four MPs in the London parliament.

Ms Ruane said: “Our celebrations in 2005 will reflect how Sinn Fein has become the fastest growing party in Ireland.

“We will involve activists across all layers of the party as well as others outside the party.

“Our centenary celebrations will focus on issues of huge importance to Ireland’s future such as equality, human rights and ethnic minorities.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News