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Saturday, November 29, 1997 Published at 15:03 GMT


A history of Sinn Fein
image: [ Norhern Ireland ]
Norhern Ireland

Sinn Fein, set up in 1905, is the political party devoted to re-uniting Northern Ireland with the Irish Republic.

The party, whose name is taken from the Gaelic, meaning 'We Ourselves', first won a seat in the British Parliament in 1918.

But Countess Markievicz, like the current Sinn Fein President and elected member of the British Parliament Gerry Adams, did not take up her seat.

Mr Adams has been the Party's President since 1983.

[ image: Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams]
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein envisages a united Ireland based on "sustainable social and economic development; genuine democracy, participation, equality and justice ... and a lasting and meaningful peace."

Its policies include:

  • Self-determination, unity and independence of Ireland as a sovereign state.
  • Commitment to its peace strategy, and to a "negotiated and democratic settlement", where real peace is a lasting peace, "not simply the absence of violence."
  • The aim of bringing about "full, inclusive, all-party peace talks without pre-conditions."

Gerry Adams was elected the Member of Parliament for West Belfast from 1983-1992 although he never took his seat. He won back the seat at the 1997 General Election.

Sinn Fein received 15.47% of the vote in the elections for the Northern Ireland Forum in 1996, giving the party 17 seats.

[ image:  ]
Sinn Fein national executive member, Martin McGuinness, stood in Ulster Mid in 1997 and won the seat from the incumbent Democratic Ulster Party candidate, William McCrea. Significant constituency boundary changes in Ulster Mid contributed to the handover.

On the day of the Queen's Speech, on May 14, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Betty Boothroyd, barred the two Sinn Fein MPs from using the Commons because they would not pledge allegiance to the Queen.

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