SDLP to rethink position on united Ireland?


Well-placed sources have revealed that a crisis of identity is looming inside the SDLP.

Sources within the SDLP have revealed to the Andersonstown News that discussions are being held internally on whether to drop the objective of an united Ireland in their policy.

The party’s website contains the quote: “The SDLP is 100 per cent for a united Ireland. The SDLP is 100 per cent for the Good Friday Agreement.”

However, our sources have indicated that the chasm between the ‘nationalist’ and ‘social democrat’ wings of the party is getting wider.

“There are ongoing discussions taking place at this moment within the party at committee level on this issue,” the source said.

“They are debating whether to drop the policy of aiming for a united Ireland and, in its place, maybe go for the idea of a ‘united island’. I think it’s a way of trying to access more middle-class, rural unionist pockets in order to boost electoral strength. But there is no way that politicians who stand in strongly nationalist areas will ever accept that. No way.”

The SDLP have suffered electoral reverses in recent months, most notably with Sinn Féin topping the polls at both the European and Westminster elections.

With former Lord Mayor Martin Morgan calling it a day and the news that South Down assembly member PJ Bradley will run on a Fianna Fáil ticket in future elections, it appears that the party is, at the very least, haemorrhaging popular candidates.

PJ Bradley said that he believed that Fianna Fáil will merge with the Northern party and that he would run for Fianna Fáil in future British elections. With over 5,000 votes, PJ Bradley’s personal poll was the second largest of any SDLP candidate in last November’s Assembly elections.

It is expected that his possible defection could spark off a flurry of activity resulting in many more candidates standing on the FF ticket in the next parliamentary elections.

The SDLP was formed on August 21, 1970, by six Stormont MPs and one Senator who represented a variety of Nationalist, Republican and Labour parties. Drawing on these roots the party established itself as left of centre and became a member of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament.

After Mark Durkan took over the reins of the party in 2001 the party tried to shake off its old-school look and embrace a new ‘post-nationalist format’.
“This is not working,” the source said.

“The party is in serious difficulties. It is undergoing an identity crisis.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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