Daily Ireland

Sinn Féin/SDLP bitterness continues

Political relations between the North’s nationalist parties continued to sour yesterday with Sinn Féin’s West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty branding remarks by former SDLP deputy leader Seamus Mallon as “bordering on racist”.
Speaking on television at the weekend, Mr Mallon said that “the people in South Armagh and West Belfast and West Tyrone and other parts don’t want policing, because if you have policing you don’t have criminality”.
Mr Doherty slammed those comments yesterday, saying, “Seamus Mallon’s remarks about the people of West Tyrone, West Belfast and South Armagh are completely without foundation and represent a demeaning slur, which verges on the racist.
“It’s almost a surprise that he did not also single out the people of North Belfast, South Down, Foyle, North Antrim, North Kerry, Dublin, Louth, Cavan and Monaghan, Donegal, Sligo, South Antrim, South Belfast, East Belfast, East Antrim, Wexford, Waterford, Cork or indeed any of the parts of Ireland where Sinn Féin draw significant electoral support from,” Mr Doherty said.
“It was not a slip of the tongue but a clear reflection of the resentment Seamus Mallon harbours against people who support Sinn Féin’s political analysis and vision for Irish reunification and our work for people on the ground.
“Sinn Féin has long eclipsed the SDLP in electoral terms. Unable to offer a rational explanation as to the demise of the SDLP in many areas he has instead reverted to the tactic, used throughout history by the British, of demonising entire communities.”
Seamus Mallon said, “My remarks were very clear. I referred to the IRA, not to the people of South Armagh or other Border areas. The IRA wants to continue its criminality and that is why it rejects policing and the murder of Robert McCartney proves that point.”
Meanwhile, in a keynote address in South Belfast last night SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell welcomed Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny to Belfast as “a long-time friend of the SDLP”.
Dr McDonnell was speaking as his party launched the first in a series of seminars building relationships with parties from the South.
He used the opportunity to call for the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation to be reconvened.
“The SDLP doesn’t embrace consensus-building and persuasion politics because the numbers tell us we must,” Dr McDonnell said. “We do it because our desire to create a shared future for all on this island tells us we should.
“The SDLP has more than just a vision of unity - we have a strategy for unity. We offer the people, North and South, a better way to a better Ireland."

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