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Sinn Fein activists demand closer co-operation between Protestant and Catholic schools

ByLiam Clarke

Sinn Fein activists want increased co-operation between Protestant and Catholic schools, a Belfast Telegraph poll at the party's ard fheis has found.

It sends a strong message to John O'Dowd, the Education Minister and a Sinn Fein member.

He will see that 97% of those questioned believe he should "encourage State and Catholic schools to share facilities and/or teachers".

The same percentage wanted to see more Protestants joining Sinn Fein, with only a single delegate thinking it would be a bad idea.

Opinions were more divided on other issues like abortion and policing.

Almost a third (32%) felt it should be easier to get a termination, whereas 68% believed that present restrictions should either remain or be made more stringent

Matt Baggott, the PSNI Chief Constable, was distrusted by 76% of delegates and less than half, 45%, said they would encourage a close relative who wanted to join the PSNI.

However, the figure was much the same, at 46%, when the same question was asked about the Gardai.

There was no expectation of renewed IRA violence.

Almost all, at 96%, believed the IRA ceasefire would be permanent, while 93% were confident there would be a united Ireland within 20 years and 89% would vote for one straight away if a referendum was held.

Trust in non-Sinn Fein figures was thin on the ground. Of a range of personalities, Peter Robinson the DUP leader, and Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State, scored highest, 29% and 23% respectively, on the question of trust.

There was strong support for the leadership, with 92% wanting Gerry Adams to lead the party into the European election, though a number suggested that he should retire in the next few years.

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