Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Few words from the Ard Fheis

This Blog has taken a few quick minutes from the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Dublin to scríobh a few words on the conference thus far. I have found a quiet corner in the back of the stage and borrowed a laptop.

The Ard Fheis started last night and ran on until nearly 9.30pm before breaking until this morning. It will run until 9pm tonight when this Blog wraps up with the Presidential speech.

For the first time Sinn Féin opted to take the later live slot on RTÉ television so the speech begins at 8.30pm and will last for half an hour.

It’s been a packed hall all day and people are in great form. In the background, as this Blog pounds away on these keyboards, there are delegates addressing the Ard Fheis. The clár ranges across a multiplicity of issues, from job creation and the economy, through education, the environment, to rural and coastal communities; equality and Irish language rights; to internal party issues.

In the international section guests from the African National Congress in South Africa; the PLO; and the Basque country all addressed us and received a great welcome. Someone else who got a loud and long applause was Councillor Maurice Quinlivan whose determination to clear his name after he was smeared by former Minister of Defence Willie O'Dea led to that Minister's departure.

At lunchtime I joined colleagues in attending the launch of a book on the life of Sinn Féin activist Sheena Campbell which was written and compiled by Ella O'Dwyer.

Sheena was killed by a unionist death squad, working in collusion with British state agencies, in October 1992. She was attending Queens University at the time of her murder where she was studying law. It was a moving event with many of Sheena’s friends and her partner Brendan Curran speaking about her, her family, about her commitment to republican politics and her role as a mother and comrade.

It was a reminder of the importance of republicans writing our own history; telling our own stories of personal experience in struggle. And in this centenary year of International Women’s Day, this very fine book of Sheena’s life, is also a timely reminder of the need to rewrite women into history.

As usual the media is in attendance. Their primary interest appears to be in what the Ulster Unionists might do on Tuesday when the vote is taken in the Assembly on the transfer of powers on policing and justice.

Most aren’t sure what the UUP is at. I’m not sure the UUP knows what it is doing but Sinn Féin will be voting yes and this Blog expects that the vote will go through.

But at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis the focus is very much on the failures of the Fianna Fáil/Green Party government.

This Blog is now off to a small room in another building to spend a little time practising for this evening's live event. I’ll let you know how it went later.

The Book on Sheena Campbell is part of the Irish Republican Legends series and is entitled 'Dancing to the Revolution - Sheena Campbell: A lost Leader'.

It can be bought online at or at the Sinn Féin bookshops in Belfast or Dublin.


Linda Coleman said...

Have a good Ard Fheis; looking forward to hearing your speech and reading more about how it went.

We just had gubernatorial primaries in my corner of the world, and I passed a United Ireland resolution at my precinct convention; resolutions are gathered at the precinct level and go up to the state level. Several other activists are working on state resolutions for a united Ireland, and, hopefully, a few will make it to the top. They're non-binding resolutions, of course, just a symbolic show of support. Hope it helps.

Good luck tonight!

Paul Doran said...


You did your party no favours today by accepting the possibility of going into power with Tweedledum & Tweedledee.It baffles me no end how you can square this one up.These bastards have caused so much damaged to this society that we live in I frankly just cannot understand it. I suppose it more about SF moving away from it's once proud ideals. As I write this
I have in my hand Women in Struggle Volume 4 a Beautiful picture of Vol Mairead Farrell

How far do you go before you lose touch with this whole republican struggle> That's it for me Sin E

Dainéal said...

Iontach speech you gave tonight, Gerry

Timothy Dougherty said...

Just read your speech to Ard Fheis, great work Gerry.
"The Irish people deserve better", no truer words could be said.They did had a vision for the New Republic to freedom, republicanism is the conscience of the Irish people, and you made great point as that conscience mind.Caithfidh muid seasamh le chéile,as a nation. Well done , very well done . I feel your so right and many things, we need to write our own history, the Revisionist history carries both positive and negative connotations. Each has its own entry.The truth will set us free. Great job Gerry,

Mr Reality said...

Gerry, just a few thoughts on the upcoming vote on Tuesday. speaking as an ordinary Joe Soap, and a life-long supporter of the republican cause, I think I speak for the vast majority of Joe Soaps out there (republican variety) when I say that we do not give a fiddlers what the UUP do or say.
The various agreements have been signed up to and are there to be implemented in full.
So if the UUP want to behave like ostriches so be it. Drive on!!!

Anonymous said...

Gerry as an armchair critic of SF i was impressed with your speech and the overall ard fheis, a bit too much satchi & satchi though compared to the likes of the lake glen et al, however as bob dylan said , the times they are a changing and after looking at the recent coverage of the decommissioning conferences by the likes of the INLA i thought that they were more like a group of uneducated loyalist thugs.keep her lit for the pursuit of the 32 because noone else will, ps hope collette is fighting fit as she is a lovely woman who was always very hospitable in the bakery .xx

Mr Reality said...

Just a word to Paul. I believe your heart is in the right place Paul, but you must play the long game. If Tweedledum and Tweedledee sign up to truly republican ideals and have a Damascus-like conversion, most unlikely in the case of Fine Gael, who are we to close the door in their faces? I believe all options should be kept open. Best wishes to you.

Micheal said...

I can see that it went very well. It was an excellent speech. I really enjoyed what I saw of the confernce on the computer and I thought your interview with Jim Fitzpatrick was very good stuff as well. I'm looking foward to seeing Sinn Fein with a larger party in the Dail. I'm delighted with my destiny.

Linda Coleman said...

As usual, Gerry, I found plenty of things in your speech that speak to me as an activist in the States.

"They would not nationalise the wealth. But now they are happy to nationalise the debt."

Why does that always happen? Over here, taxpayers are bailing out the banks and we're told that's a good thing. But universal health care? The naysayers try to scare people into thinking that making health care available to all would bring down Western civilization as we know it.

"Most struggles aren't won by single actions. Or by iconic leaders...They are won by people..."

Great line, Gerry, which I'll share (with credit) to some young people who voted for the first time ever for Obama and are now losing heart, as if he could've waived a magic wand erasing the debt, ending the war, and giving us all health care within his first month in office!

303 said...

I thought your speech at Ard Fheis was excellent...

Anonymous said...


I knew Mairead. She was a long standing comrade and friend. I have no doubt that were she alive today she would have been at the Ard Fheis applauding Gerry.

The reality is that no one in the SF leadership is advocating colaition with either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael. They have said we are prepared to disucss it if they are prepared to accept republican policies - like - actively arguing and working for a United Ireland, as well as the many radical social and economic policies that the party has.

Now Paul what chance do you think there is of that happening - do the words 'pigs' and 'flying' come to mind?

No political party that wants power to make change can or should rule itself out of anything. That's the politics of going nowhere.

So, a wee bit of common sense, tactical management and good old fashioned hard work will get us to where we want to go.

And if you want to know where that is then listen to the Presidential Ard Fheis speech - that spelt it out - clear unambiguous radical republican politics grounded in citizens rights and republican goals.