“I am here to support Mark Durkan” – Brian Cowen

The Irish Times reports on, the Irish Government Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen’s endorsement of Mark Durkan and the SDLP during a visit to Derry yesterday – Cowen backs Durkan during Derry visit.. Hmm.. no statements about Irish Government interference in the North from Sinn Féin.. yet.The visit by the Irish Finance Minister is another show of support for Mark Durkan from political parties in the Republic –

Last week Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny joined Mr Durkan on the campaign trial in the Foyle constituency, where the SDLP leader is defending the seat held by John Hume.

Interesting quotes throughout the piece.. and they will probably make their way into campaign literature for the SDLP at some point –

Yesterday Mr Cowen said if he were able to vote in the constituency in next month’s general election, he would vote for Mr Durkan.

“I am not here to put anyone’s nose out of joint, I am here to support Mark Durkan.

“I think he has been an outstanding finance minister in the Assembly and he is a good personal friend of mine. He is here to contest and to hold John Hume’s seat and I am delighted to be here to be associated with his efforts,” Mr Cowen said.

And in response to a rather pointed question the report states –

Asked if he was telling voters in the constituency not to vote for Sinn Féin, Mr Cowen said he would tell them “Mark Durkan is an excellent candidate to succeed John Hume. They will vote for whomever they wish and obviously I am here to support whom I would like to see them support.”

Mr Cowen said if he could vote in the election, “I would be voting for the man beside me. He espouses some of the economic republicanism that is relevant to 21st-century Ireland”.

Mr Cowen said the SDLP had the “most economically literate agenda” of the Northern parties.

“They understand the economics that are required to bring peace and prosperity to the people of Northern Ireland.”