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One of the most vehement voices in favour of a united Ireland, the modern-day Sinn Fein party sprung from the wreckage of a major schism in the republican movement during the 70's, although the name has been employed for much longer.

With headquarters in both Dublin and Belfast, the party has established itself both north and south of the border, gaining seats in the parliaments of Ulster and the Republic of Ireland - in fact they represent the largest nationalist bloc present in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Since the beginning of the Peace Process Sinn Fein have also taken five seats at Westminster, but all of their MP's generally abstain from voting in the Commons.

One group that Sinn Fein have long had close links with is The Provisional IRA, in fact the two most famous faces in the party - its leader and his deputy, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness - were long-time members who fought for the cause.

This relationship was immortalised in the words of Sinn Fein organiser, who stated that the party's aims should be to gain power "with ballot paper in one hand Armalite in the other" - this attitude has since become unpopular and the party has officially renounced violence.

Both figures have forgone their violent past in order to take part in the political process and were instrumental in the drawing up of the Good Friday Agreement alongside their Unionist counterparts.




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