SF wins seat on Udaras na Gaeltachta
Sinn Fein has won its first seat on the Board of Udaras na
Gaeltachta, the authority with responsibility for Irish-speaking
regions in Ireland.
Republican Sinn Fein's Tomas O Curraoin narrowly missed capturing
a seat in the closely-fought Galway area.
A total of 44 candidates competed for 17 seats among an
electorate of 79,600 within Irish-speaking areas of counties
Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Meath.
Galway has six Udaras seats, Donegal has four, Kerry and Mayo
have two each and Cork, Waterford and Meath are represented by
Grainne Mhic Geidigh yesterday became Sinn Fein's first
representative on the Board following the count for the Donegal
Gaeltacht in Dungloe.
Sinn Fein general secretary, Mitchel McLaughlin, who was in
Dungloe for the count, described the success as an 'historic
breakthrough' for the party and said the party had polled
strongly in the three constituencies of Donegal, Galway and
"Sinn Fein stood in this election on our agenda for change in
relation to the role of Udaras na Gaeltachta, re-building the
peace process and campaigning for Irish re-unification.
"Sinn Fein will use our mandate for change and our priorities on
the Board of Udaras na Gaeltachta will be job creation, reform of
Udaras na Gaeltachta to make it relevant, accountable and
democratic and an integrated strategic plan, which would look at
all the language needs of the Gaeltachtai."
Fianna Fail retained its majority on the authority last night in
a low overall turnout of 40 per cent.
Meanwhile, preparation for the expected British general election
on May 5 continues in the Six Counties.
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble is reported to have asked
the DUP not to contest four seats in the British general election
to boost efforts by rival nationalists to defeat Sinn Fein.
This would allow the SDLP and Tyrone hospitals campaigner, Dr
Kieran Deeney, a free run against Sinn Fein.
Although Mr Trimble did not suggest a pact in those exact terms,
he admitted seeking to develop a way of damaging Sinn Fein
electorally. He said this might entail Unionists voting SDLP in
Responding to news of possible election pacts, a Sinn Fein
spokesman said: "We will be defending our seats and increasing
our votes in these elections.
"It's not surprising to us. All unionists are comfortable
negotiating with the SDLP rather than on the all Ireland mandate
of Sinn Fein. In fact, it says more about the SDLP than the UUP."
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that more than 40,000 people
will be prevented from voting in next month's Westminster
The reason for the drop in voting numbers is controversial new
re-registration procedures ostensibly introduced to combat voter
fraud, but which has acted only as a deterrent to voters.
West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty said: "This is a crisis, and I have
very serious concerns. The people not on the register are mostly
young, nationalist and working-class.
"More than 40,000 votes spread across the North's 18 Westminster
constituencies will have a major difference on which parties are
elected. "I am repeating calls for the Electoral Fraud Act to be