All systems go for Derry Ard Fheis

All Ireland Organising Committee meeting in the Millennium Forum this week.
All Ireland Organising Committee meeting in the Millennium Forum this week.

Preparations are now well advanced for Sinn Fein’s historic 2015 Ard Fheis in Derry, party representative Gearóid Ó hEára has said.

Co-ordinator of the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis organising committee in Derry, Mr Ó hEára said thousands of people were expected to take part in the two day party conference, which will see the Ard Fheis being held in the north west region for the first time.

The conference will be staged over two days during the first weekend of March at the Millennium Forum.

Speaking after the committee met in Derry this week, Mr Ó hEára said: “It’s been a busy first couple of weeks to the New Year as we make the final preparations for the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis being hosted in Derry on the first weekend of March.

“Much detailed planning has gone into staging this event which will attract upwards of 2,000 delegates and family members to the city.”

Speaking about the economic boost for Derry from staging such a huge event, Mr Ó hEára added: “Preparations will “intensify as we move towards the first weekend in March to ensure a successful Ard Fheis, which will make a substantial financial contribution to the local hospitality and service sector.

“Media and tourist commentators estimated that last year’s Ard Fheis in Wexford injected in excess of £1 million into the local economy.

“As well as delegates and their visitors there will be a number of high profile international guests and media in attendance.”

The Sinn Fein Ard Fheis is normally broadcast live across Ireland and beyond.

Topics likely to come up are the recent agreement struck in the lead up to Christmas.

The state of the Peace Process and the power sharing with the DUP in the north are also expected to be examined.

Sinn Fein’s staunch opposition to water charges and other austerity measures introduced by the south’s Fine Gael- Labour coalition are also expected to be raised.

Last year’s Ard Fheis was held in Wexford town, a decision which resulted from Sinn Fein’s decision to take their annual conference out across the country. Two years ago the event was held in the Waterfront in Belfast.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness’ homecoming address is expected to be among the most anticipated of the conference.

Speaking at last year’s event, Mr McGuinness said: “My commitment is to work with those unionists that want to see progress, to consolidate the peace process and turn the political process into one which is solely about delivery not survival. We can unleash the true potential of our people if we can see progress on age old issues and unite behind the common goal of building a better future for our young people.”

In his Presidential Address at last year’s Ard Fheis, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams hit out at governance of Fine Gael and Labour in the south.

He said: “Our society has become increasingly polarized between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, ruled over by a Government which is increasingly arrogant.”