Questions from slugger readers for Mark Durkan.

The SDLP has kindly agreed to slugger readers putting questions to Mark Durkan,at the Annual Conference this weekend. The questions are to be answered in a video format. This is now an opportunity to put those questions to our elected representatives you really want answers to. The questions can be about anything, but Mick will be the final judge as to what questions will be selected to go forward…..

  • kensei

    The SDLP vote has dropped for every election you have led the party. Why haven’t you resigned?

  • kensei

    “What would it take for you to resign?” would also do.

  • Blue Rinse Brigade

    Good to see Mr Durkan following in the footsteps of Mr Cameron!

  • Mark McGregor

    Last time round with Cameron I thought he got off easy by having time to prep responses. Any chance of people emailing meatier questions direct to Mick so we can try to keep Mark on his toes?

  • “Last time round with Cameron I thought he got off easy by having time to prep responses.”

    Aye. Cos I’m sure his team were working for hours formulating responses.


    The SDLP seems to be getting weaker in places like North & West Belfast. At a time when people are losing faith in Sinn Fein’s ability to properly represent these constituencies why aren’t the SDLP capitalising on this? Have the Derry and rural based SDLP leadership given up on Belfast? Many of us in the city feel that we have NO proper political representation. There IS an SDLP vote in Belfast outside the Malone Road but the party needs to get into the inner city areas and fight for it. As we have seen the Shinners have been exposed, outside the Troubles, as a very poor ineffective party. They have brought NOTHING to Belfast. Mark, it’s time for some serious thinking and proper strategy directed towards Belfast from the SDLP.

  • kensei

    How can a regional party bring about national unity?


    who really cares about the stoopies. Their dead ducks.

  • nineteensixtyseven


    105,164 people evidently.

  • kensei


    Is that a question, or a rant?

  • RepublicanStones

    “So Mark, do you think Heath Ledger is in the running for a posthumous oscar?”

  • Dec

    Can some sort of time/word limit be imposed on Durkan’s answers? I’ve to get up early on Sunday…

  • Is your career a vocation, i.e. a calling to change society from a higher source, or is no different from the other political leaders in that it has no absolute focus?



    It’s a fact. I have no great love for the SDLP but the Shinners are a disaster. Under their watch the DUP is ruling the roost, people are living in fear, criminality & unemployment are rising, the housing crisis has rocketed etc. Then again the drugs trade is doing a great turn (Mmmmmmmm) as are mental and physical ill health in North & West Belfast while inward investment and decently paid jobs are a myth and fantasy. Didn’t Robin Livingstone and the Andersonstown News say as much before they were made a Republican offer they couldn’t refuse and found the horses head in the bed?

  • Plastic Paddy

    “How can a regional party bring about national unity?”

    Hear, hear, kensei –

    My question for Mr Durkan is: What, if any, sort sort of bold action is the SDLP prepared to take on the constitutional question?

    The answer I’m looking for (and that I know that I won’t get) is some sort of All Ireland initiative.

  • Plastic paddy

    Mark would do well to ignore you as you may simply be a Sinn Fein member doing as SF members do, trying to steal ideas from the SDLP?

    Get some ideas of you own, PP!

  • Plastic Paddy

    Sure, John – British rights for British citizens then?

  • Mark Durkan opposes the liberalisation of abortion rights in Northern Ireland, yet has stated that he doesn’t oppose women leaving Northern Ireland to obtain abortions and claims he would never try to stop them exercising this right. However, given that having to travel to England for a termination can cost up to £2000 and many women have to go into debt in order to get the money, how does Mr Durkan reconcile his position as a social democrat with the fact that the women most seriously affected by our current abortion law are those already living in or near poverty? Also, considering the generally socially liberal (pro-safe sex/gay rights) stance of the SDLP Youth, does Mr Durkan regard his position as tenable in the long-term?

  • Plastic Paddy

    Clearly you’re as delusional as Gerry Adams, and that’s delusional. You keep on reading into comments what you want to read and Gerry will continue to oblige by believing everything that people like you tell him is in those comments.

    Because clearly every comment by the dominant social democrat paradigm supporter is flawed, and the party who changed all their policies is perfect.

  • Plastic Paddy

    John – believe it or not, I’m not a member of Sinn Féin, I’ve been reading too much Anthony McIntyre lately to be as delusional as you seem to think.

    I’m an Irishman and a ideological republican, an anti-partition, 32 county, Irish republican – not British, not Northern Irish, not a terrorist, not a criminal, not a liar – and I’m no partisan stoop.

  • Plastic Paddy

    a ideological republican

    Is that a joke too? It means a supporter of the Old Testament value system, an eye for an eye, right of centre, nation builder and all the rest.

    You might not be aware of this, PP, but the reason you feel yourself opposed to the social democrat SDLP is that you are a Tory. As is Gerry Adams, when he gets around to thinking through his political posturing.

  • Plastic Paddy

    No, John, republicanism means popular sovereignty, the rule of law, individual liberty and responsible citizenship. Republicanism is secular and non-sectarian.

    The “Old Testament” is a religious text – I’m talking politics, not religion. Perhaps your time would be better spent studying Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson. Your Bible is a good book, John. There are many other good books.

  • Plastic Paddy

    No, John, republicanism means popular sovereignty, the rule of law, individual liberty and responsible citizenship. Republicanism is secular and non-sectarian.

    You can’t have seriously thought through your politics if you can come up with the above.

    Popular Sovereighty – Moses journey out of Egypt

    The Rule of Law – Moses the law giver – not, I note , do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but an eye for an eye. Crime leads to punishment

    Individual Liberty – A Tory concept – what about the community?

    Responsible citizenship – A Thatcherite blurt meaning that there are those who are not responsible bringing down the tone of society

    The “Old Testament” is a religious text

    The Old Testament is the foundational doctrine of the Right. Historically it has been used to set aside New Testament teachings of Christ and to reject true Christianity.

    Old Testament is Right and New Testament is left, broadly speaking. You cannot truly know politics when you can suggest ignoring the Bible.

    As I suggest, all the violence has numbed republicans from actually thinking through what they believe, but it’ll come out in the wash. They are an Antichristian org led by the Antichrist, (Gerry’s name comes out at 666).

    I just finished reading The Antichrist by Neitzsche, the German philosopher, and he uses the book to reject Christianity, favouring instead the glory days of the German empire founded in Old Testament values. This was just before Hitler. He readily accepts that he is an Antichrist, which is at least honest.

  • frustrated democrat


    ‘How can a regional party bring about national unity?’

    That is a good question and the mirror image of the Conservative and Unionist position only National parties can do National things.


    There is a possibility that the new Conservative and Unionist pact, as a UK national grouping, may be attractive to a part of your historic vote. Will you consider this when you are putting together your next manifesto?

  • What part of the historic SDLP vote would move to the conservative and unionist party? That makes no sense. Especially when a vote for the SDLP is a vote for Labour given that they sit on the government benches. Sheer fantasy.

  • frustrated democrat


    Maybe you believe their are no Catholic Conservatives, in any normal society 30% + would be.

    So where do British Catholic voters who are Conservative in their values place their votes, not currently in the UUP and DUP boxes in any numbers, that is for sure.

    So they either vote SDLP as a protest agsinst SF or don’t vote. I personally know of several who are now moving in the Conservative direction as they want to vote for a party who can make real decisions on our futures.

    NI voters just don’t conform to the accepted norms all the time.

  • Plastic Paddy

    John, I’ve tried to remain respectful in our little dialog here, but you seem to want only to tell me what my views are, and ignore what I tell you that you are. Quite disconcerting to say the least.

    I’m not a believer, John. I think your Moses business and the “Gerry’s name” and “666” reference (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean) are about as relevant as Beowulf or Táin Bó Cúailnge or Harry Flipping Potter.

    I won’t be responding to any more of your incitements, John. Good luck and I’m sure we’ll lock horns again in the future.

  • I’m sure there will be a tiny, and statistically insignificant few. Of course, even though the SDLP supports Labour, it is itself very conservative, especially on social issues so it does Catholic conservative nationalists fine.

  • Plastic Paddy

    I’ve tried to remain respectful in our little dialog here

    I wouldn’t like to see you being disrespectful.

    I think your Moses business and the “Gerry’s name” and “666” reference (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean) are about as relevant as…

    See my website but basically if you take A=6, B=12, and C=18… Z=156, you’ll get Gerry Adams = 666.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘See my website but basically if you take A=6, B=12, and C=18… Z=156, you’ll get Gerry Adams = 666.’


  • michael

    At one stage, I strongly considered joining SDLP youth and becoming more politically active.

    However, the SDLP’s stance on abortion rights prevented me from doing so. For a party that claims its political heritage from the civil rights movement, the fact that they couldn’t have the moral conviction to even give recognition to the debate surrounding abortion rights, showed me that the party is too tied to its conservative catholic base.

    How can Mark convince me that the SDLP have a more panoramic vision of how to create a more pluralistic society, rather than just being capable policy hacks, maintaining the status quo.

  • frustrated democrat


    What about British inclined Catholic Conservatives? From the polling it is about 10% or 10,000+ SDLP voters who would consider switching, hardly statistically insignificant.

    Certainly enough for the SDLP leadership to consider.

  • Republican Stones

    I care. You would care too if you weren’t a Tory who thinks Tory, supports Tory ways and values, and hates true compassionate social democracy.

    But your response is perfectly in line with the response of Tories throughout history to Christ and Christianity.

  • FD,

    I don’t believe those polls, and see no evidence for their accuracy. Why didn’t they switch last time, when the Tories were in government?

  • Plastic Paddy

    (I know that I said I wouldn’t respond, so maybe I am a liar.)

    I see, if you assigned arbitrary (successive multiples of six, is it?) quantitative values to the letters of the Latin alphabet – and then applied those values to the letters that spell out a common nickname for a public figure, they correspond to a number that appears in a very old text written by a member of a desert tribe in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire that predicts the coming of some incredibly evil figure – therefore we should vote SDLP.

    Can you see how a secular humanist might have a bit of trouble following your logic, John?

    You have the right to believe whatever you want and to practice your religion freely. I promise to keep my government out of your Church. Kindly keep your Church out of my government. (That’s called republicanism, John.)

  • Comrade Stalin

    Plastic Paddy,

    you might want to examine the text of the Good Friday Agreement, which was ratified by the people of Ireland ten years ago. It sets out our aspirations for the future. Reunification is mentioned barely in passing.

  • Plastic Paddy

    Thank you for the patronising remark helpful advice, Comrade Stalin. Fortunately, I have actually heard of and read this document.

    I believe that the same document also recognised “the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose.”

    I choose to be Irish. Agus tusa?

  • RepublicanStones

    Allah wept !

  • frustrated democrat


    What evidence do you want to see, if 30%+ of Catholics would vote Conservative if they lived in GB, why would it be surprising if 1/3 of that number voted for them here? Do you have any evidence they won’t e.g. a different poll?

    With regard to history this is the 1st time the Conservatives have seriously organised here and backed it with ‘experts’ and serious money, the same people who got Boris elected from nowhere are already at work in the background. You will have already noticed the largely favourable press coverage in the last 6 months and the interest in the new force. We can assume in the next 6 months and 12 months it will be even more intense.

    The message will, I suspect, be very clear if you want to vote for the next UK government, want to have a direct impact on policy related to NI and believe in the United Kingdom then there is only one place to put your vote.

    Do you still believe 10% is not attainable or can you prove even the possibilty wrong?

  • little timmy

    hello mark durkan. through out past years the sdlp have committed themselves to a position of ‘inclusivity’ during the peace process and the various periods of power sharing. however, with the advent of what appears to be sustainable devolved government at stormont, mandatory coalition’s inherent failure to offer electors a real choice in selecting or deselecting successful or failing governing regimes and parties could now be described as somewhat of a democratic lacuna. with increasing voice, perhaps from uup, tuv, alliance and other quarters, being given to the notion of a ‘formal opposition’ in the assembly, how do you see the sdlp’s influence coming to bear on this issue in the future?

  • why do you agree to something in the executive and then disagree when you get in the chamber?

  • Seimi

    Where do the SDLP stand on the issue of the Irish language? Do you support Dominic Bradley’s Bill on a languages Act? And how do you feel about the fact that this bill is in fact POBAL’s proposal for an Irish language Act, with key words changed, ie POBAL for SDLP, Irish language Act for Languages Act etc?

  • Plastic Paddy

    I promise to keep my government out of your Church. Kindly keep your Church out of my government. (That’s called republicanism, John.)

    That’s called escapism, PP.

    If God exists, and I’ve just given you the bones of the proof that She exists, you are subject to that God’s rules just like everybody else, and you’re not just exempted because you threaten and bully and try to smartarse your way out of the matter.

    Another word for republicaniasm is cynicism. It is neither noble nor intelligent, just cynical. I have say that because every two bit “republican” that comes onto this site seems to believe that he’s the smartest, cutest hoor on the planet. Face up to reality, you Antichrists.

  • Question

    Is Sinn Fein an antichristian party? Is Gerry Adams an Antichristian leader, given his recent claim to be a nation builder rather, it seems, than representing the poor and weak who might be said to hinder the nation. What about his tactical use of human suffering during the Troubles?

    Is the SDLP a Christian party in the sense that Fr Peter McVerry, the Dublin social reformer, defined Christianity in his book Jesus: A Social Revolutionary – compassionate?

    Is the SDLP a compassionate party?

    Are the SDLP’ origins Christian in non-violence and social action?

    Is there anything about the heritage of the SDLP that you would disown?

    Why is the word Christian or Christ never mentioned when this is clearly in the foundations of the party and other parties try to claim that they are the true inheritors of Christian values?

  • FD,

    I have evidence in so far as whenever the Conservatives have stood in NI before, they never got anything like the type of votes you are talking about. Saying that the people behind Boris are now active is to suggest that the electorate in London bears any similarity to the electorate in NI. Which is clearly not the case, otherwise we wouldn’t be locked in orange versus green. Linking up to the UUP is hardly likely to attract more Catholics, conservative or otherwise.

    You’re welcome to your dreams FD, but something more substantial seems a long way off.

  • frustrated democrat


    You may think NI is locked into Orange and Green I don’t. Campaigning is about getting a message across regardless of wheter it is in London or NI the skills are the same. Things are changing every day as we suffer recession, personal financial situation is much more important that some far off aspirational change to the border.

    People will want to consider voting for a party that actually has the power to change things and hopefully make their situation better, that means they have only one option to vote for.

    You may live in the old world, I look to the new one, I know which people will prefer.

    So the question remains, since 10% is not an unrealistic possibility and a smaller number will be certain.

  • Cuchlar

    What are the SDLP doing? Apart from appearing on platforms with unionists increasingly; are they waiting for FF to swoop down and save them? They offer nothing- and that’s literal in terms of the paucity of looking up their proposals on Assembly website. SF must be free and clear, they are talking to people, astonishing right!