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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

SF marks hunger strike anniversary

SF marks hunger strike anniversary

Sinn Féin's electoral success can be traced back to the hunger strikes of 1981, Martin McGuinness said on the 30th anniversary of the start of the protest inside the Maze prison.

Tuesday, 01 March 2011

The Deputy First Minister was opening a new exhibition in Belfast commemorating the events, which led to the death of ten republican prisoners demanding political status and put Sinn Féin on a political path.

Mr McGuinness explained how the decision to stand hunger strikers for election, including Bobby Sands, who was MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone when he died, had sparked the republican movement's shift into electoral politics.

He described the move as "a seminal moment in the development of Irish republicanism".

Mr McGuinness was joined at the Linen Hall Library event on Tuesday by party leaders Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald, who both won Dáil seats in the Irish Republic's general election at the weekend.

"I think people can see that the all-Ireland agenda is coming together with major support for Sinn Féin in the north and growing support for Sinn Féin in the south", Mr McGuinness told UTV Live Tonight.

"Our project is an all-Ireland project," he said.

"We are unashamedly Irish republicans. We are united-Irelanders. And we are going to continue with our strategy.

"Those who try to portray that as a threat are making a huge mistake. It threatens nobody. It is quite legitimate to be an Irish republican."

On Monday, First Minister Peter Robinson said Sinn Féin's best ever poll result in the Republic could also act as an electoral boost for the DUP in the Assembly elections on 5 May.

He said Sinn Féin's surge came from a protest vote by an electorate that was angry over Fianna Fáil's mishandling of the Republic's economy.

© UTV News

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