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Sunday, May 10, 1998 Published at 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK

'Think of the future,' Adams tells Sinn Fein
image: [ Gerry Adams started the debate with the words:
Gerry Adams started the debate with the words: "let the battle begin"

The Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, has appealed to party members to think of the future when considering the Stormont peace deal.

Gerry Adams, addressing the Sinn Fein conference: "Our struggle will go on" (21")
Mr Adams was speaking at the start of a special Sinn Fein conference in Dublin at which members are being asked to give their backing to the Good Friday agreement.

He told delegates they had a real opportunity to influence the strategy of the party.

Changes in the party's constitution and the expected endorsement of the Stormont agreement should pave the way for Sinn Fein party members to sit in a Northern Ireland assembly.

In what has been described as an "exceptional decision" by the Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam, the IRA's commanding officer in the Maze Prison Patrick Wilson is among four republican inmates that have been freed for the conference.

Dr Mowlam authorised the temporary leave so the prisoners can push for a 'Yes' vote for the Northern Ireland peace agreement at the conference.

Two-thirds majority needed for party to sit in assembly

The prisoners are joining other Sinn Fein members from across Ireland who are being asked to back the Good Friday deal.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams tells reporters the conference will do whatever is "best for the republican struggle" (2'49")
The political wing of the IRA is holding a special council in Dublin on Sunday after putting off its decision several weeks ago.

President Gerry Adams on Wednesday sent party members a memo recommending strong support for both the peace deal and the historic switch to allow party members to take up seats in an assembly.

[ image: The IRA has refused to give up its arms]
The IRA has refused to give up its arms
Sinn Fein politicians elected as MPs in Northern Ireland refuse to swear allegiance to the Queen and take up their seats at Westminster.

Previously, they have regarded participation in a Northern Ireland body as a tacit acceptance of partion.

Before the leadership can alter this stance, they must win the backing of two-thirds of delegates at the council meeting.

McGuinness: Support growing for assembly

Martin McGuinness, one of Sinn Fein's UK MPs, told the BBC he was optimistic about achieving a 'Yes' vote in the May 22 referendum.

Martin McGuinness speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme (3'14")
"I think there has been a very constructive and positive debate about it," he said.

"I think there are concerns naturally among a small section of the Sinn Fein membership, but I have to say I think the mood all over the island is that moving into the assembly to further our republican objectives towards our ultimate goal of a united Ireland is at this moment in time the sensible thing to do," he said.

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