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Quinn bids to banish 'smoked salmon socialist' image

By John Downing, Political Editor
LABOUR leader, Ruairí Quinn, will today attempt to banish his 'smoked salmon socialist' image in a specially commissioned interview to be broadcast on RTÉ.

At the same time, Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, will hold a pre-election conference in Dublin aimed at galvanising candidates and activists ahead of the forthcoming election.

Labour officials say Mr Quinn will explain how he came from a relatively privileged childhood environment in the Dublin of the 1950s to being committed to radical social justice policies.

"He will address the often-asked question about how somebody from a relatively wealthy background came to be the leader of the Labour Party. He will explain how the great evidence of poverty and deprivation in his younger years all around him impacted upon him," one official said yesterday.

The broadcast is part of a special one-day Labour conference gathering 800 delegates in Dun Laoghaire which is aimed at rallying the party faithful and showcasing their candidates ahead of the general election.

Party organisers hope the teatime broadcast of the 11-minute interview will have a major impact on viewers.

The choice of Dun Laoghaire is also a clear attempt to push the Labour Party's chances of securing two of the five seats there with candidates Eamon Gilmore, and former Education Minister, Niamh Bhreathnach. Proceedings will open with a presidential address by Proinsias de Rossa at 11am which will attack the Government performance on a range of policies.

The conference will close at 6pm with a showing of Mr Quinn's interview and the party leader's address which will be carried live on RTÉ.

The Sinn Féin gathering is scheduled to be addressed by their North Kerry candidate, Cllr Martin Ferris. It will gather all 27 party candidates and their key election organisers.

Sinn Féin vice-president, Pat Doherty, said the meeting was the last major gathering ahead of the election and was aimed at galvanising all party members into action for the campaign.