A Chairde The following is a version of the report that I delivered at the AGM on 8th March. Like all reports that are given verbally not all the content is taken in by those listening and I felt it important to put the report into a magazine form for all members to read. The report should give you, our members, the confidence to continue to build our party in all our areas. The report clearly illustrates what we are capable of as an organisation when we put our minds to it. I have been able to produce this report in electronic magazine form thanks to the group that have taken on to advance our digital media profile. This is their first attempt at an electronic magazine and I hope you’ll agree after viewing it that it is an excellent production. As you will know this group have also been successful in producing videos of a number of our events and have put them out there on social media networks for all to see. This is an important development for us as a party given the prominence of social media networks in the modern world. This is a work in progress that we hope to build on over the coming months and years. It is only 4 months since our AGM but things have already moved on swiftly. Martina is now an MEP, Maeve is an MLA, Barney is joining our Council Group and Paul is now our Council Group leader. Our new offices are under construction, we are actively looking for premises on the east bank and the Shantallow office modernisation plan will begin shortly. The report clearly illustrates a strong, vibrant party. We are a party on the move. Derry Sinn Féin is getting stronger by the moment. That is down to you comrades. The growth of Derry Sinn Féin is a measure and reflection of you, our members, and the work you carry out on a daily basis. The Chair’s Report for the first 4 months of this year if written now would again show a very positive, strong and vibrant party. We must continue in this vein and build a stronger party over the coming years as we face into another series of elections beginning with the European election in 2014 when our own comrade Martina will be the candidate and our party nationally will strive to hit the target set by our National Chairperson Declan Kearney of 500,000 votes. It is my intention to ensure that Derry Sinn Féin plays a full and active role in achieving that national target. The work has already begun and we will play a big part in it. As we do this we must build a bigger party in Derry. We must attract more members to join us as we strive to reach this target. Everyone has their part to play. No matter how big or small. Andrew
CHAIRS REPORT 2012 I would like to begin by welcoming you all here tonight to our AGM. Almost 14 months ago when you elected me as Chairperson of Derry Sinn Fein in the Tower Hotel I pledged my commitment to take Derry Sinn Fein to the next level.
and again he blows the dust of it. Last year we set up a Training Department and Meabh Mackel heads that up. I attended one of the induction sessions recently and it was refreshing to be inducted to the party by two of our young members Conloath Rodgers and Ronan Mc Donald. They certainly are doing the party proud.
Alongside me that night you, our members, also elected 17 other activists to serve as officers on Derry Comhairle Ceantair. You elected us to lead our party and our political project in this city. I would hope that your assessment 14 months on would be that we have served you well.
Our Fallen Volunteers should always be remembered and indeed honoured on an annual basis. Micky Kinsella heads up our Derry Graves Department and I’m sure you will all agree that our Oglaigh are always given the recognition and respect that they deserve.
I would like to thank Padraigin and Liam our two vice chairs. Joanne, our secretary. Our PRO team who keep us in the public eye. Nunga the campaigns manager. Bridget Meehan has only recently come in to head up the All Ireland Department but already is making good progress. Chris Kerr has headed up our Outreach Department and some of the events in the past year are evidence of the success we have had in terms of outreach. My brother Noel heads up our Policing and Justice Department and we only have to look at the Sean Dolans case to see how we are able to hold Policing to account. Big Eamonn Mc Ginley has the honour of being the Chair of Ogra, and as we all know we have one of the best youth organisations on this island. I would like to congratulate Ruairi Mc Laughlin who was elected onto our National Youth Executive at the weekend. Big Bob is stepping down from fundraising but what a job he did and our loss will be the Pol Kinsella Cumanns gain. Pol Kavanagh looks after the money and every now
Noel Garlick is our Recruitment Officer and although he is standing down to be the Chair of the Barney Mc Fadden Cumann he can be proud of the fact that our membership has risen from 145 last year to over 200 this year. Barney O Hagan is our Council Co Ordinator and along with Eric Mc Ginley and the rest of our Council Group, Maeve, Mickey and Gerry, Elisha and Tony, Paul and Lynn, Patricia, Kevin and Collie, they deal with the day to day politics that face the Derry public. Liam Duffy is our party organiser. Liam is the activist who has the responsibility to make everything happen once we decide what we are doing. Michael Anderson was elected last year as Vice Chair but when Mark Mullan was taken from us we had to re shuffle. Michael stepped in as DOE and although he hasn’t faced an election yet in his new role, he has certainly shown that he has the ability to deliver this department. Within the past year we have been able to set up an Irish Language Department for the first time headed up by Donncha Mac Naillias. Any modern party has to move with the times and I am glad to report that this year we were also able to create an IT Department headed up by Phil Thompson and already we are seeing the benefits of modern technology. Our Assembly team of Martina, Raymond, Joanne, Mark, Paul and Conor work away tirelessly on our behalf and a measure of their strength was being able to get Derry’s One Plan into the Programme
for Government. We also have Dale and Dominic working full time in the press department at Cuige level. Iâ€™m sure you will all agree that is some leadership. In case you are in any doubt let me remind you of some of what that leadership and indeed you our membership have achieved in the past year. Our Orga Dept held a very successful Congress in Derry on the Bloody Sunday weekend of 2011. We helped organise the last Bloody Sunday March that year as well in conjunction with the families. There is no doubt that that was probably the largest ever Bloody Sunday March to be held. We played a very significant part in the elections in the 26 counties sending activists to Donegal on a daily basis. Once we got Padraig and Pearse elected we held a very successful cavalcade from the Donegal border to Free Derry Wall. Our brave Hunger Strikers were remembered in a fitting way on their 30th Anniversary with our â€™81 Committee putting on numerous events to honour their memory. On 6th March we held our candidate launch in Gasyard Centre using a more informal format
which seemed to work well and there was over 200 in attendance. As you will all know the North West public have been campaigning for quite a while for a Cancer Unit to be built in North West. We have been at the fore front of this campaign and indeed on the day that Michael Mc Gimpsey tried to bury it we held a very successful protest against his decision which was followed by Martins statement guaranteeing that the Radio Therapy Unit would be built at Altnagelvin. On 24th April we held a very successful Town Hall meeting in the Waterfoot Hotel. We changed the format and brought in our Ministers and other key leadership personnel. This proved to be a very worthwhile event with over 100 people from across Derry attending to engage with the leadership of our party. Our Easter Commemorations across the city were well attended as were all of the Hunger Strike events that we organised. We also had two very important social but commemorative events during the year, the annual Volunteers Dinner Dance and the Pol Kinsella function, both of which were well attended and well organised events. I suppose one of the main things we achieved in the past year was in May when we made a significant advancement in this city coming to within
499 votes of the SDLP. In our Rural DEA we came to within 2.5 votes of taking an extra seat. This result has clearly put down the marker that we will soon become the largest party in this city. As a result of the election Martina was appointed as a Junior Minister. Raymond got Assembly group leader and Mark Mullan was appointed as a special advisor. That now leaves Derry Sinn Fein with 4 MLA’s , 2 Ministers, an Assembly group leader, 3 special advisors, 10 councillors, a C.C. Officer Board made up of 18 officers, 7 active Cumann which includes Ogra, over 200 members and an activist base of 600 plus people. I’m sure you’ll all agree that is some
organisation and I have been proud to be Chairperson of it for the past 14 months. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank the contribution made by Gerry Mac Lochlainn who is standing down from council shortly. He has served our party well within Derry City Council and I have no doubt that he will continue to play a significant role within our party in the future. GRMA Gerry Kevin Campbell was elected as Deputy Mayor in May which in itself was an honour for Kevin but it took an extra significance given that Kevin is an ex blanket man and his year as Deputy Mayor coincided with the 30th Anniversary of the 81 Hunger Strike. This year we will have the honour of one of our councillors being elected as Mayor so that will be a work in progress to see who will lead our city into one of its biggest years 2013. Throughout the year our party participated in a range of events and mobilisations eg Ronnie Kasrils book launch/ West Belfast bye election/ ongoing prison situation around Brendan Lillis and others/ the marching issue and a number of other events were our party was always represented.
June saw our annual Volunteers Commemoration weekend with our annual march being well attended and used as a platform to invite those who had drifted away from our struggle to re engage with us. Our annual £50 draw was also concluded on that weekend and again proved to be a very successful fundraising event. Tickets are now out for this years draw and I would encourage as many of you as possible to buy a ticket and to sell a number of tickets as finance is a major part of the work we need to do especially this year when it is our intention to open an office in the Waterside, hopefully move our Head Quarters and renovate our offices in Shantallow. The past year wasn’t without major challenges to our political project and some of these challenges became physical attacks on a number of community activists and community buildings. One of our own members Sean Mc Monagle had his car attacked outside his family home and this resulted in over 400 people marching through Creggan in a show of solidarity to those community people who were being attacked because they were standing up and defending their community. The past year also saw local commemorations for 2 of our Volunteers whose 40th Anniversaries had occurred: Eamonn Lafferty and Jim O Hagan. Both Waterside and Creggan are to be commended for the way in which they marked these important dates. Both events were well attended and it was noted that a lot of republicans who had drifted away from us attended these events which built on the theme of our June Commemoration. Our party was well represented at the Ard Fheis with over 100 of us attending a well organised conference in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall. Credit has to go to our Belfast comrades for an excellent conference especially the mobilisation for Gerry’s speech. The latter part of the year saw the announcement of Martin’s intention to stand in the Presidential election in the 26 counties. There was no doubt that this was a major decision and Derry Sinn Fein was to see itself challenged as to how we could make a major contribution to this campaign. On 20th September we did an impromptu welcome for Martin at Free Derry Wall. As we do we
gave ourselves 4 hours notice but were still able to mobilise 200 activists to commend Martin for putting himself forward on behalf of our Party in the Presidential race. Nine days later we were to hold another event at Free Derry Wall which set the tone for the rest of Martinâ€™s campaign. We were asked by the leadership of the party to launch Martinâ€™s campaign at an event at Free Derry Wall but it needed to be more inclusive than just ourselves. It needed to be representative of Derry society sending Martin off on his Presidential campaign. And guess what comrades we did that. We surpassed our own expectations on what we were capable of doing. You were all there. You witnessed what we did. You saw the crowd and you saw the platform, Derry Sinn Fein did that because we applied ourselves to it. We had the confidence and we did it. We played our part throughout Martins campaign and were a big part of the successful outcome of it. Martin took 3rd place in that election polling 243030 votes. We welcomed him home on 2nd November at an event in Culturlann which again saw us break new ground in terms of the people who attended the event. The end of year was to see us begin to organise a Uniting Ireland Conference. Again this was a major challenge for our party locally and again our members rose to the challenge. On 28th January this year we packed the Millennium Forum. Over 900 people attended to take part in a debate with a panel which was made up from a wide range of social and political backgrounds including Unionist Basil Mc Crea. Whilst all of this has been going on we have 2 constituency offices open 5 days a week and thanks to Bridie and Marie who anchor these services. There is ongoing fundraising to the tune of ÂŁ100,000. Our Assembly and council team work away representing our people on a daily basis. Our Cumann and Departments work away constantly to make all of this happen Whilst doing and achieving all of this over the past 14 months Derry Sinn Fein also took a very critical look at ourselves through the Cumann Review that was published in January of this year. This docu-
ment poses many challenges for us as a party as we face into the next 2 years before the elections that will come with RPA. I am in no doubt that our party will meet these structural challenges head on just like we met all the other challenges we faced over the past 14 months. There are many areas of work that we need to improve on as we face into the next year. We only sell 300 AP/RNs. We have no office in the Waterside or Rural. There is major work to be done on Outreach. Our All Ireland strategy needs to be promoted at every opportunity. Some of our commemorations need looked at to make sure of better attendance. Our Cumann Review needs lifted and streamlined into our party not least around re structuring and skills assessment. We have major party building to do if we are serious about moving forward and becoming the largest party in this city. That said I think that on reflection our party has had a good 14 months. I have been both privileged and honoured to have been at the head of that party. I have to say that it was made easy when you have 17 other people on an officer board with you who are keen to carry out their brief. It has also been made easy when you had 7 Cumann chairs, Paul, Archie, Deirdre, Deccy, Jim, Sandra and Eamon who head up very active Cumann all of whose members are there waiting to be called upon to carry out the next task. The next 2 years will provide Derry Sinn Fein with a number of challenges and opportunities. We are close to becoming the largest party in this city. It
will take leadership and commitment from all of us to meet those challenges and benefit from the opportunities. All of us in this room our leaders in our own way. Hopefully in a short time I will be re elected again as Party Chair along with all of the other officers for another year. But it doesn’t stop there. When we leave here tonight it isn’t just my job, or that of the C.C. to move Derry Sinn Fein forward. It is the responsibility of each and every member of our party to move us forward. I would appeal that each and every one of you plays your part within our party to the best of your ability. Don’t sit back and let someone else do it if you think you can do it. Don’t be found wanting. Play your part, play it to your ability and we’ll be a stronger party as a result of that. The past 14 months have been a remarkable time for Derry Sinn Fein and that’s down to you comrades. You had the leadership, confidence and ability to do what was needed. Let’s continue to build on that success over the next 12 months. As we leave here tonight comrades lets leave having made decisions that will place our party in the best position to deliver our objectives over the next couple of years. The decisions we will make will have an impact on our future; let’s make sure that it is a positive impact. Our future is in our hands. Let’s make the right decisions as we move forward.