Sinn Fein has said that final preparations are going well for this weekend’s historic Ard Fheis as billboards advertising the event go up across Derry and Donegal.
More than 2,000 conference delegates and visitors from across Ireland are expected to arrive in the region later this week ahead of the Ard Fheis.
The two-day conference will be staged at the Millennium Forum in Derry’s city centre this Friday and Saturday.
Speaking at the launch of new billboards in Bridgend, Donegal Councillor Jack Murray said “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We are really looking forward to having the Ard Fheis right on our door step.
“It’s a platform for us to put our party policies out there and for party activists and spokespeople to state clearly what our policy positions are on key issues affecting people in their everyday lives.”
Derry Councillor Sandra Duffy added: “It’s great that this year’s Ard Fheis will be held in Derry. In recent years it has been held in Belfast, Castlebar, Killarney and Wexford. It will be a historic weekend not only for Derry to have the first ever Ard Fheis held here but also our neighbouring counties of Donegal and Tyrone.
“Locally this will be a major undertaking for us. It’s expected that over 2,000 delegates and visitors will gather for this conference. That’s not taking into account all the guests who attend and the international media coverage it gets.”
Media and tourist commentators estimated that last year’s Ard Fheis in Wexford injected in excess of £1 million into the local economy.
Donegal North East Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said that this year’s event will provide an economic boost for both Derry and Donegal. Speaking along with fellow Donegal and Derry Sinn Féin representatives, Deputy Mac Lochlainn he said: “The continued growth of Sinn Féin has meant that our annual Ard Fheis has grown year on year.
“The national media present at the event will provide an opportunity to promote this region, while local hotels and restaurants will benefit from the huge number of visitors who will stay here for the weekend. Hundreds of our members will be staying in Donegal.”
He added: “I would also encourage everyone to tune into our live debates and see our party’s democratic process in action and watch some of our talented young Sinn Féin representatives .”