Adams and Attwood go head to head

The SDLP last night launched a blistering attack on Sinn Féin President and West Belfast MP, Gerry Adams, after a television debate between both parties.

During the lunchtime encounter between Mr Adams and SDLP leader Mark Durkan, the Sinn Féin President stated that he would not be asking anyone to vote for SDLP candidate Alex Attwood. Reacting to the comment, former SDLP leader John Hume was scathing in his criticism: “The SDLP in this election are taking the fight to the DUP in key constituencies throughout the North.

“One of those constituencies is West Belfast where the DUP is targeting Alex Attwood.

“Gerry Adams’ comments not to transfer to a SDLP candidate in West Belfast can only mean that he would prefer to see a seat in the hands of the totally anti-Agreement DUP rather than in the hands of the totally pro-Agreement SDLP.

“At a time when the SDLP is working to save the Agreement and face down the DUP, I am disappointed that Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin would act in this way,” said Mr Hume.

In response, Sinn Féin Assembly election candidate Sue Ramsey said that the SDLP was “fast running out of excuses to attack Sinn Féin”.

“Firstly it has to be remembered that Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams actually proposed a vote pact with the SDLP a number of weeks ago. It was the SDLP who refused the offer being extended by Sinn Féin.

“Secondly, the voters of West Belfast will decide who can best represent their interests both in a new Assembly and in political negotiations.

“For our part, Sinn Féin’s focus is on making history by securing five Assembly seats in the West Belfast constituency for the very first time.

“The entire SDLP strategy of focusing on the DUP is predicated on ‘scare-mongering’. That’s why the SDLP continues to make false claims about a DUP seat being possible in West Belfast

“The SDLP have demonstrated that when they cannot effectively tackle Sinn Féin policies, they simply attack Sinn Féin personalities.

“And when the voters on the doorsteps reject that approach, then the SDLP – in desperation – start to ‘scare-monger’ about the DUP hiding around every corner.

“I have every confidence that the electorate will see through the SDLP’s negative and bogus style of campaigning,” said Cllr Ramsey.

Meanwhile Republican Sinn Féin will be holding a press conference tomorrow (Tuesday) in Belfast in order to highlight its opposition to next week’s Assembly elections.

With just nine days to go before the November 26 election, both the SDLP and Sinn Féin are predicting gains. SDLP hopes are focused on an extra seat in South Antrim (see profile page 17) while Sinn Féin is looking for gains in West, North and South Belfast, as well as in Strangford where Belfast businessman and party standardbearer Dermot Kennedy says he can benefit from a split in the SDLP vote. Former party stalwart Danny McCarthy is running against his former colleagues. “I’m confident I can slip in and make Strangford the shock result of the election,” said Dermot Kennedy.

However, SDLP candidate Joe Boyle insists that he will capture a first seat for the party in the constituency which stretches from Carryduff to Portaferry.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney

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