The Sinn Féin Ard Fheis opened in Dublin this evening, with delegates debating a wide range of issues, including workers' rights, international affairs and criminal justice.

The last one was specially convened to agree to sign-up to policing arrangements in Northern Ireland - although there are a number of motions for debate this weekend seeking to row back on that decision.

Martin McGuinness told the Ard Fheis that this was a time of great hope and opportunity for the party.

He said the recent democratic decision taken by the extraordinary Ard Fheis on policing had liberated the political process.

Mr McGuinness told delegates that they had created the conditions in which the DUP had to accept for the first time power sharing if they wanted to be part of shaping the future.

SIPTU leader Jack O'Connor warned against a race to the bottom in a speech to the Ard Fheis.

Mr O'Connor said unscrupulous employers were carrying out a campaign of exploitation against millions of vulnerable of migrant workers.

And he said victims had little choice but to accept whatever wages were offered.

He said that despite Ireland's prosperity, the things that people took for granted in less prosperous times including occupational pensions, the 39-hour week, security of employment and being paid the rate for the job, were now being systematically dismantled.

Support has been expressed for the Basque separatist party, Batisuna, the Palestinian people and the Kurdish minority in Turkey.

Bairbre de Brún said it was a source of shame that the USA and the EU has not put pressure on Israel to re-enter talks with the Palestinian Authority.

'It is essential that the EU and EU member states provide practical and vocal support for conflict resolution in Palestine and the Basque country,' she said. 

'I would call on the Irish government in particular to become and advocate for peace, for an end to repressive measures and for the Israeli and Spanish governments to move away from the failed strategies of repression and conflict and fully embrace dialogue and self determination as the way forward.'

Delegates also backed a call for Dublin's Merrion Road to be renamed Bobby Sands Avenue.

But there was traditional fare too, with expressions of support for the Palestinians, Cuba and Venezuala - as well as a call for discussions with Hugo Chavez's government on developing oil and gas reserves in Irish territorial waters.