Thousands to attend SF Ard Fheis in Derry

Derry and Strabane Mayor Michaela Boyle (centred) launches the Sinn F�in Ard Fheis at Derry's Guildhall. Included are Elisha McCallion MP, Martina Anderson MEP, Raymond McCartney MLA and Councillors Tina Duffy,  Patricia Logue, Aileen Mellon, Paul Fleming, Christopher Jackson, Sandra Duffy and Michael Cooper. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
Derry and Strabane Mayor Michaela Boyle (centred) launches the Sinn F�in Ard Fheis at Derry's Guildhall. Included are Elisha McCallion MP, Martina Anderson MEP, Raymond McCartney MLA and Councillors Tina Duffy, Patricia Logue, Aileen Mellon, Paul Fleming, Christopher Jackson, Sandra Duffy and Michael Cooper. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Thousands of Sinn Féin delegates will descend on Derry this weekend for the party’s Ard Fheis.

The annual event is taking place on Friday and Saturday at the Millennium Forum in the city centre.

Sinn Féin Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Michaela Boyle, says the two-day get-together will attract thousands of delegates from every part of Ireland as well as international guests from across the world.

She added: “It is great to see the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis returning to the city having previously been hosted here in 2015.

“It is an excellent showcase for the city and is yet another major conference coming here, furthering Derry’s reputation as a premier conference venue.

“Not only will this attract many visitors to the city, it will also provide a welcome boost to the economy as many will be staying in local hotels.

“I look forward to welcoming the delegates to the city when they arrive next weekend for what is sure to be a successful event.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s deputy leader Michelle O’Neill is expected to “resoundingly win” a leadership contest scheduled to take place at the Ard Fheis.

Mrs O’Neill is up for re-election at this weekend’s conference in Derry, with Upper Bann MLA John O’Dowd also standing.

Mr O’Dowd’s challenge is viewed as something of a surprise as Mrs O’Neill’s leadership has been championed by ex-party president Gerry Adams and her predecessor Martin McGuinness.

A number of senior party representatives have spoken out in support of Mrs O’Neill to retain her position.