The Sinn Fein leadership and party activists from across Ireland were today meeting in Co Meath to discuss recent electoral setbacks in the Republic and future party strategy.
The gathering in Navan was also expected to debate the party’s approach to the second Lisbon Treaty referendum in the south, which Sinn Fein is again expected to campaign against.
While described as a “significant” event the one-day meeting was not being viewed as a threat to Gerry Adams’ continued occupancy of the party Presidency or signalling a shake-up at senior leadership level.
Although wider than the party’s regular ard chomhairle (executive) the session fell short of the sort of special ard fheis which overwhelmingly endorsed the leadership’s decision to support the PSNI and law and order two -and-a-half years ago.
Ahead of the meeting, Mr Adams, who will be 61 in October and is the longest-standing party leader in Northern Ireland, insisted he has no intention of standing down and blamed commentators who he said were making the same wrong predictions 10 years ago.
“You should judge Sinn Fein in the fullness of time,” he told today’s Irish Daily star, “It isn’t just about elections and good elections — although obviously I want to see us getting the best election results possible — judge us on the results of what we have achieved in setting the agenda.”
Recent resignations by senior members including Christy Burke and Louise Minihan in Dublin, and criticism by unsuccessful Euro-candidate Toireasa Ferris after the loss of Mary Lou McDonald’s Euro-seat and the drop of support in the last general election have struck the West Belfast MP and party leadership.
In a hard-hitting An Phoblacht article Ms Ferris said the party “means nothing” to the bulk of people in the Republic .while Ms Minahan argued the Sinn Fein had moved away from its “republican values”.
But Ms McDonald said: “We intend to emerge from (this) gathering totally focused on the challenges ahead as we drive forward the agenda of political, social, economic and constitutional change on this island.”
The impact of planned government cuts would also be discussed.