Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, launches the party's election manifesto in Dublin, Ireland in this February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
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Irish protest party Sinn Fein is set to reap the rewards of opposing austerity with a major breakthrough at elections this month, but its push to enter government has stumbled over an improving economy and unease about its ties to the IRA. Party leader Gerry Adams, the face of Irish Republican Army bombing campaigns for many in Britain, confounded critics by steering his party's support from 10 percent in the last parliamentary election in 2011 to an opinion poll rating of 26 percent this time last year.Sinn Fein is still fighting for an unprecedented second place in an election where polls suggest no party will have enough votes to govern alone.Sinn Fein was the political wing of the IRA, which was responsible for more than half of the 3,600 killings during three decades of violence between Irish Catholic nationalists seeking an end to British rule in Northern Ireland and the British Army and Protestant loyalists who defended it.It is now benefiting from support among a new generation too young to remember IRA attacks, said Sinn Fein candidate Chris Andrews, who analysts say is a serious contender in a Dublin constituency where the party had previously never stood a realistic chance of victory.
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