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April 12, 2006

Senior Sinn Fein Member Siobhan O'Hanlon Dies

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Senior Sinn Fein Member Siobhan O'Hanlon Dies

04/12/06 07:43 EST

A Sinn Fein official who was heavily involved in the party's
negotiating team at Stormont in the run up to the Good
Friday Agreement has died, the party has confirmed.

Siobhan O`Hanlon regularly accompanied Sinn Fein president
Gerry Adams into meetings in Downing Street where she acted
as a note taker during critical talks with British Prime
Minister Tony Blair.

She had been battling cancer for more than a year but died
during the night.

Extending his condolences to Ms O`Hanlon`s family, Mr Adams
said she had been the lynchpin of his office. She was a
committed republican activist and a kind and gentle woman
who cared deeply about her family and friends.

"Her stamina, forthrightness and determination in pursuing
issues is legendary," the West Belfast MP said.

"Siobhan never allowed her illness, which she battled with a
determination which amazed and impressed all who knew her,
to distract her from her work. She continued that work right
up until very recently. Siobhan was a close friend and an
invaluable comrade. I have known her for many years."

"For the last 15 years she was the lynchpin around which my
office functioned. For much of that time she was also the
point of contact between us and the British and Irish
governments. She also headed up Sinn Fein`s South African desk."

In 1997, she was part of the first Sinn Fein delegation to
meet Tony Blair in Downing Street.

In October 2001, she accompanied Mr Adams on a visit to
South Africa where they met Nelson Mandela and also unveiled
at Robben Island Prison, where the former African National
Congress leader was jailed, a memorial to 10 republican
hunger strikers who died in Northern Ireland in 1981.

Her uncle, legendary IRA leader Joe Cahill, was a strong
supporter of Mr Adams until his death in July 2004.

Mr Adams said Siobhain O`Hanlon`s death came at a poignant
time for republicans as they prepared to take part in
commemorations of the 1916 republican Easter Rising.

"This Easter will be more so (poignant) for all of us who
knew, loved and respected Siobhan," he said.

"I want to extend the sympathy of Irish republicans
everywhere to Pat and Cormac, to Siobhan`s mother Tess, and
the O`Hanlon and Sheehan families."

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