Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Sinn Fein will not be boxed in: Extremists will not succeed and political 'no-go' areas are a thing of the past

Sinn Fein launch their manifesto at the Mac in Belfast. Mark Marlow/pacemaker
Sinn Fein launch their manifesto at the Mac in Belfast. Mark Marlow/pacemaker

In three weeks, more than 350 candidates will stand for Sinn Fein in every local council area throughout the 32 counties.

This will bring new momentum to the process of change taking place north and south.

Republican politics provide an alternative to the prevailing status quo of inequality and recession.

Austerity is the antithesis of economic growth and job-creation.

However, fundamental change also means tackling the golden circles of greed and the forces which promote racism and sectarianism.

Sinn Fein's electoral strategy is geared towards acquiring the popular support which allows the party to strategically advance economic and political change.

Others oppose change, north and south. One significant manifestation of that is the removal of Sinn Fein European and local election posters in places such as Lisnasharagh, Finaghy and the upper Ormeau Road in Belfast, Cairnshill in Castlereagh and Ballynahinch.

Such traditionally unionist areas have now become communally mixed, due to population shifts.

Several conclusions emerge. Firstly, some extreme unionists want to maintain 'no-go' areas, sectarian segregation and to exert sectarian domination.

Secondly, they want to stop Sinn Fein's political message and representation extending to such places.

And, thirdly, it's an attempt to prevent republican engagement with ordinary unionist and Protestant citizens.

These extremists want to perpetuate sectarianism and segregation.

They may even fear the possibility that some within the unionist section of our community might be persuaded by the republican vision and programme.

However, they will not succeed. Political 'no-go' areas are a thing of the past.

The politics of change is here to stay and is resonating all over Ireland.

And that work will be fearlessly promoted by Sinn Fein everywhere.

Declan Kearney is Sinn Fein's national chairman

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