No southern comfort for Sinn Fein

SINN FEIN, the political wing of the IRA, opened its markedly low-key Ard-fheis (annual conference) in Dundalk yesterday, with delegates from the south complaining that they were having great difficulty in attracting electoral support for the party, writes David McKittrick.

It was the first Ard-fheis to be held outside Dublin: the party could not find a venue in the capital and had to go to court to force the local council to allow it to use Dundalk's town hall.

The conference was smaller and more downbeat than in previous years.

There was an unusual degree of criticism from southern members in the wake of the general election in the Republic last year, when Sinn Fein won less than 2 per cent of the vote.

Three people were shot in Belfast city centre last night within a short distance of each other. The condition of the injured was not known.

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