SINN FÉIN president Gerry Adams has acknowledged that his party does have problems in the south and the party needs to reassess its strategy in the Republic, ahead of tomorrow's 'Battle at the Ardboyne' meeting.

Adams was speaking to the Sunday Tribune ahead of the party's crunch meeting in Navan's Ardboyne Hotel to discuss the fallout from the recent mediocre election results, defections of councillors and the party's position on the second Lisbon treaty referendum in October.

When asked if the party's difficulties stem from the fact that his northern leadership does not resonate with the electorate in the south, he replied: "I think there is an issue that I do not stand for election in the south and I have a constituency in another jurisdiction. That is why we have been building a southern leg of our national leadership.

"There clearly are issues that we need to face up to. Our lack of capacity in the local government elections is one issue. We only had an extra seven candidates in June compared to 2004 as we are not organised in certain areas."

Adams quashed speculation that he is set to retire and said he welcomed a recent controversial article in An Phoblacht by Toireasa Ferris which was critical of the party and claimed it was suffering from "an identity crisis".

"Toireasa is one of our leaders in the south. My job is to encourage debate. We are not leading sheep. We have a party which has huge aspirations so people are free to make whatever contributions they like," Adams said.

diarmuid doyLe, page 18