29/05/2003

Sinn Fein take part in election protest

Sinn Fein have taken to the streets in protest today over the cancellation of local elections.

Proceedings began when West Belfast MP Gerry Adams handed over a letter of protest to Stormont officials this morning.

Mr Adams said the postponement of Assembly elections, which were due to take place today, meant that people were living in a "democracy-free zone".

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said the shutting down of political institutions had created a dangerous political vacuum.

He added: "The cancelling of the elections is wrong and was taken against the wishes of people across the island of Ireland. It is imperative that the British government reverse this decision and set a date for the Assembly elections."

Sinn Fein were expected to hold a number of mock polls in towns across Northern Ireland as part of their protest.

Demonstrations have also taken place in Ballymoney, Banbridge, Belfast, Londonderry, Omagh, Lurgan and Dublin.

Last month, Prime Minister Tony Blair cancelled elections because of what he called the IRA's "point-blank" refusal to answer his questions on its future intentions.

No specific date has yet been set for new elections, however they are expected to take place in the autumn.

(MB)

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