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 www.sinnfeinbookshop.com or at the Sinn Féin bookshops in Belfast or Dublin.