Gildernew launches Sinn Féin candidate’s website

The Designated Minister for Agriculture in the new Northern Assembly, Michelle Gildernew was in Strokestown on Thursday evening last to launch a website for Sinn Féin election candidate Martin Kenny.             If there ever was any doubt about the importance of broadband provision in rural areas, it was outlined at the website launch, which was delayed for a time because of the difficulty in connecting to broadband.             The new website (www.martinkenny.info) details issues which Cllr. Kenny has been campaigning and will be campaigning on. It also features a YouTube presentations, as well as film clips and links to various other websites of interest.             After experiencing some difficulty in connecting to broadband at the event in the Percy French Hotel in Strokestown, Martin Kenny said: ‘Broadband is one thing that is essential for people to be able to use the internet properly and this evening we have had a problem with broadband and couldn’t get a strong enough signal. So, it’s an example, if you go three miles out the road you won’t get broadband at all.’             Because of the difficulty experienced, the website launch was an hour late getting started and Cllr. Kenny thanked the staff in the hotel for their efforts and also thanked John Corcoran, who came up with the idea of the website. The theme of the website is ‘new voice, new leadership’, which is Kenny’s election campaign slogan. It synopsises the various election issues and pledges that each voter can make a difference. There are a total of eight video clips on the new website and Cllr. Kenny urged people young and old to visit the website.             Master of Ceremonies at the event was John Corcoran. Introducing Designate Minister for Agriculture, Michelle Gildernew, Mr. Corcoran told guests that in 1917, Count George Plunkett was elected in County Roscommon, and Mr. Corcoran said that County Plunkett was the first ever Sinn Féin MP to be elected.             Ms. Gildernew, launching the website, said that while the north is supposedly 100 percent broadband enabled, she lives in a rural area and is unable to get broadband at home. She said that young people who live in areas not served by broadband are prohibited from taking part in the ‘bebo generation’, where young people communicate with their friends through the internet.             She noted Cllr. Kenny’s election campaign slogan ‘new voice, new leadership’. ‘From my experience, Martin Kenny is not a new voice. I find him to be a fantastic person. He really cares about the people he represents.’             ‘I remember being at an event and we were talking about the situation on the Ormeau Road. People were hemmed into their homes for a whole day while Orange men marched up and down outside. He said ‘while things like that are going on, none of us are free’.’             ‘That compassion and caring encompasses all the groups in our society. He cares about people in the travelling community, people in the gay and lesbian community, people with disabilities and people who have come from other countries. In Martin Kenny this area has a brilliant leader and I have no hesitation in saying that he is one of the best candidates we have.’             Michelle Gildernew knows all about how much votes matter in an election. She once lost a local government seat by 30 votes, which she admits ‘wrecked her confidence’ for a time. She ran again in 2001 and won a seat by 53 votes, increasing her winning margin to 4,583 in 2005.             ‘I was going to doors and people were saying ‘I have never voted for Sinn Féin, or ‘I have always voted SDLP’. People had already decided that they were going to give us a chance. We had 18 years of Ken Maginnis, an ex-UDR man. We vowed that we would do what we could to change the political leadership.’ Ms Gildernew won a seat by 53 votes.             She urged all present at the launch to engage with everybody around them and garner votes for Sinn Féin. Concluding, she said, ‘Maybe before we have the broadband issue sorted out, we could be looking at a united Ireland. As Bobby Sands said, everybody has their part to play.’             Constituency Manager Seán Lynch from Fermanagh said, ‘I know Martin since I got out of prison.’ (On his release, he became constituency organiser for Michelle Gildernew and was instrumental in her election in 2001.) He said that he hoped there was good weather for the canvass and said that every effort had to be made to get Martin Kenny elected. ‘I look forward to coming down working with you. You have a good candidate but it needs that extra effort and more people. I think he would be a good representative at national level.’