SDLP reject McGuinness’s proposal for a pact again

Earlier this morning the Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness spoke at a Sinn Fein event repeating his call for a pact telling his audience;

I have appealed for an alliance of progressive parties in the coming Westminster and Assembly elections to maximise the representation of pro-Agreement parties.

I believe that the SDLP’s rejection of my call is a serious political mistake and represents a lost opportunity.

It demonstrates a lack of strategic vision on the part of the SDLP leadership and is further evidence that they are out of step with the voters and the grassroots.

I am calling on them once again to seize the opportunity to send out a clear message of support for progressive politics, the Good Friday Agreement and genuine power sharing and partnership government.

 When I spoke with the party’s Westminster candidate and local MLA, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, told me that he thought there was “zero possibility” of a pact after the first refusal of the idea back in November.

Speaking to Slugger a party spokesperson rejected the pact saying;

The SDLP have have been very clear on repeated occasions to our opposition to electoral pacts whether they be pan-unionist or pan-nationalist. ‘Keeping the other side out’ is nothing more than a sectarian headcount that drags politics back to pre-Agreement lows. We will not engage in any electoral tactic that seeks to undermine the foundations of our democracy. The SDLP will be contesting each of the 18 constituencies.

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  • Robin Keogh

    And u are in no postion to predict where those missing 50% might mark the ballot

  • hugh mccloy

    Going by the looks of things the Alliance could be the party coming out smiling, all it will take for Alliance to win Mp seat is for DUP and UUP not to contest the seat leaving unionist voters left to vote for SDLP /SF /AP.

    SF have done well in a 50% turnout in NI, both they and the DUP on represent 12% of those who can vote, taking that into an assembly election which will be more open that the MP one will leave no party smiling

  • Robin Keogh

    Ok so its a complete coincidence that the results of elections in NI correspond directly with the census stats. Regarding the unity candidate, i have answered that question now three times, ur obviously too drunk to remember. Jeez, five yrs studying the politics of this island and no wonder i have never heard mention of ur name. Take urself away to bed and sober up.

  • hugh mccloy

    sorry was posting 2005, context is still the same though if sdlp pact with sf unionists will rally and pact and outcome will be the same unionist retian

  • hugh mccloy

    And either are you, thought you had gone to find the evidence of this imaginary unity candidate,

    You seem like a fit lad do a few laps get the blood flowing, eat well sleep well and come back in the morning if you like

  • Robin Keogh

    I never made any inference as to what effect those missing 50%, might have while u did.you have had ur fun now old man so run along.

  • Niall Noígíallach

    There ya go. Posting election results from 2005 will not help Doddsy regain his seat. Around 500 votes was the difference between the combined nationalist and unionist votes last time out in North Belfast Hugh. Even if there was a pact on both sides here (not happening though), it’s almost impossible to say how that would pan out. Dodds will be given a run for his money here by Gerry Kelly, it will go down to the wire

  • alexbr

    You cant say that for sure Hugh. Less than a thousand votes seperate them.
    In a clear figh between Kelly and Dodds people who want to move on from the hate camp at twaddell and the DUPs nastyness will vote Kelly.

  • hugh mccloy

    Old man I am 34 years young and can still go toe to toe on the Gaelic field with the best of them for the club, could do with a good fitness adviser, one who knows his stuff, none of these promise a 6 pac in 6 weeks type salesmen

  • Robin Keogh

    I am actually a pilates instructor so if u ever find urself in dublin and u can stay sober for five minutes i will give u a free session 😉

  • hugh mccloy

    A very sober and usually sober me already knew that, you should ask the more senior members of SF if i debate or meet them sober or drunk

  • Robin Keogh

    I would ask them if i knew any of them but i dont so i cant

  • Pete

    Right, when the unionists do it it’s sectarian, when the nationalists do it it’s completely fine.

    Not a biased comment at all there.

  • Robin Keogh

    Thats the point , nationalist dont do it. At least up to now. I think that should change, i think if unionism decides to stand a single candidate, nationalism should respond. If unionism is happy for all to enter the game as equals then fine.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Does Mairtin O’Muilleoir have a natural generational replacement in South Belfast, like Alasdair has with Claire Hanna?

  • Kevin Breslin

    I would question how asking one rival party standing aside in five seats for the sake of standing aside in one constitutes being pro-Agreement in any situation, even in seats where there is no unionist unity candidate.
    They may as well be asking to merge with the SDLP.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Naive. In that situation there will be sectarian pacts, and Sinn Féin will create even more sectarian pacts in Upper Bann, Lagan Valley, North Belfast, East Derry etc. Sinn Féin criticise civil war politics in the Republic but are happy to generate civil war politics in the North.

  • Kevin Breslin

    If Upper Bann, East Derry, North Belfast were contested by a single republican/nationalist, eventually the needed two way split in unionism would only cause the vote to polarize to the more extreme form.

    That’s not good for politics, Irish, Northern Irish or British.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It’s still sectarian, does nothing to combat sectarianism, and goes against the principle of uniting the people of Ireland.

    “Try not to be a person of success, be a person of purpose.”

    Pacts mean Nationalist politicians are successful at the expense that Nationalist politics must suffer. Likewise with Unionism as John McCallister continually points out.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Nick, some Unionists/pro-union voters have voted SDLP, Alliance, independents and many did not vote due to a unity candidate simply as an anti-sectarian protest. Likewise many nationalists have decided not vote merely when a unity candidate is discussed.

  • Kevin Breslin

    In Fermanagh South Tyrone the contest was between an empty chair that would give the Tories half a seat and half a tory, this year it’s between an English party getting their half seat and a local Irish based unionist.

  • Lord Budley Magee

    SF may well create their own pact in SB by withdrawing at the 11th hour as they did in 2010. There is also a new fly in the ointment in that Bobby Stoker and UKIP are currently conducting a telephone poll presumably to determine whether or not they have any chance impacting on the election as a spoiler for any single unionist candidate and to increase their presence.

    Trying to work out the Byzantine manoeuvring is futile, they will all do what they do, best just wait and see.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The UUP offered a one to one exchange with the DUP, Fermanagh South Tyrone for North Belfast. Sinn Féin offered a five to one exchange with the SDLP in response. Can you really trust someone’s version of equality if they can’t (or probably more likely won’t) do basic maths. Sinn Féin never stood aside on five seats when the SDLP were the main nationalist party on four seats, so why do they expect so much for so very little?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Ever heard of Jim Nicholson and Enoch Powell? SDLP can defeat unionists too. In all four cases the nationalists did not need a pact to win.

  • Neil

    The notion that the way to win over former SDLP voters who have decided to switch to SF is to attack the moral values of the Shinners and their voters misses one key point. They are basically insulting the people they want to get to vote for them. How they differentiate themselves without criticising the moral standing of their potential voters is their problem.

    I do agree with your points also, especially in F & ST. They did their level best to ensure Rodney got elected and obviously that won’t sit well with Republicans or Nationalists. Their leadership has been abysmal too (IMO). Ritchie was dire, and the good Doctor is the least personable, most irritable, grumpiest political leader I’ve ever seen.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Why not? That seems to be Sinn Féin’s strategy for picking up SDLP votes elsewhere.

  • Robin Keogh

    But you have to fight within the context of your reality. There is no point being all moral when ur opponents are willing to do anything it takes to wipe you out. The priority has to be to win and retain the seat. The North is not a normal demos, and as such it is hard to apply conventional fair game rules to its election processes. Thats the reality, and it looks unlikely to change in the near future.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Playing Devil’s Advocate but didn’t unionists really only enter pacts because of Frank Maguire?

    So the myths that nationalist pacts can stop them is historically proven to be flawed.

  • Robin Keogh

    Do you realy believe it is heading in any other direction. In almost every constituency with a clear Catholic majority, Unionism selects one candidtate to fight against the SDLP and SF. Given that the Catholic population is growing and the Protestant one shrinking, it indicates that this habit is likely to continue and spread. What should the response be from Nationalism? Ok, take all the seats and see you in four or five years time when we will give you all the seats again?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Unionist unity cannot win in Mid Ulster or West Tyrone or Newry and Armagh even with a power shift from Sinn Féin to the SDLP or other nationalist splitting the vote.

    The main reason that Fermanagh and South Tyrone isn’t such a safe seat for two nationalists against a single unionist is because the people of Fermanagh South Tyrone are second class citizens to a sectarian head count.

  • Kevin Breslin

    What’s Sinn Féin’s long term plan?

    Relying on people from a unionist background to accept a United Ireland because Sinn Féin will go to any sectarian lengths to achieve it?

    The Unionists partitioned land, why do Sinn Féin want to partition people?

  • Kevin Breslin

    The largest growing voice in so called nationalist communities is that of the Independent, four independents in Derry-Strabane and People before Profit in Belfast. These in the two youngest electorate constituencies in Northern Ireland. Sinn Féin cannot rely on playing the green card or the demographic game because that tactic is why their growth is stagnant and they are dependent on the SDLP to grow any further.

    Also attacking the morality of the Sinn Féin leadership is why Sinead O’Connor joined Sinn Féin, it cannot be that much of a deterant.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Or vice versa, McMullen and McLoughlin probably won’t contest the next election.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Surely would you agree Nick that the real republican arguement should be that the seat for the constituency belongs to the electorate not the politician who holds office. No party owns the seat in the same manner no party owns the voters!

  • Kevin Breslin

    SF want the SDLP to stand aside in all seats they haven’t won except ones neither can win together even with the most generous maths. They aren’t even putting up a non-partisan candidate in the name of Unity like the unionists are, just Sinn Féin ones.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Firstly Gerry Kelly is no unity candidate for a chunk of nationalists in North Belfast who have suffered at the hands of the IRA he appologises for. Secondly the demographic arguements have not been supported by the supercouncil elections nationalists have lost seats in North Belfast council elections because of negative politics and campaigning.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Relying on UKIP to stop sectarianism, things are that bad?

  • Kevin Breslin

    What’s wrong with a United Ireland, socially if not politically where Catholics and Protestants have an equal say in its development and direction like a true republican place. Pacts are about supremacy, not equality or unity, republicans bow down for tribal chieftains in pacts.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Gerry Adams Mandering

  • Robin Keogh

    Gerry Kelly is not claiming to be a unity candidate he is simply pointing out that he is the Only person likely to unseat Dodds. The supercouncil elections saw a surge in loyalist voting due to the fleg debacle more than anything else. Where is your research showing that Nationalists have stayed away because of negative politics and campaigning.

  • Lord Budley Magee

    The wise man relies on UKIP for nothing, like the SDP they will sparkle in by-elections but disappear at the general election. Their only role is that of wastrel and spoiler.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I looked above and I’m not getting a lot other than you complaining.

    If you are saying that the loss of South Belfast or FST will be the SDLP’s fault, I’m afraid it’s not an argument which is very convincing. If South Belfast is lost to unionism, and that is by no means certain, it will be because SF ran a candidate; in other words, it will be because SF chose to tear up the de facto “pact” of sorts that currently exists.

    Even the unionists are not stupid enough to try to pass off the idea that the imcumbent takes the blame for not agreeing to a pact with the challenger, which is why you will probably see the PUP standing aside in East and North Belfast.

  • Robin Keogh

    There are many ways to skin a cat, and you have chosen to skin urs to suit ur very biased one sided argument. If AM wants SF to stay away and not build a westie candidate profile in SB , it is perfectly reasonable to expect the SDLP to return the gesture in some way.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    There are many ways to skin a cat, and you have chosen to skin urs to suit ur very biased one sided argument.

    What is biased about what I said ?

    If AM wants SF to stay away and not build a westie candidate profile in SB , it is perfectly reasonable to expect the SDLP to return the gesture in some way.

    No, it isn’t reasonable to challenge the incumbent and then blame him if you both lose. Sorry, it just isn’t.

    In the Assembly election, the SDLP have 23% of the vote and SF have 12.5. Not only are the SDLP the most popular nationalist candidate, they also pull Alliance votes – even when Alliance is running one of their strongest, most popular and most nationalist-friendly candidates. The numbers don’t lie.

    If SF are afraid that nationalist voters won’t vote the right way in FST in a seat with the thinnest of thin majorities, isn’t the issue with those voters, or SF’s pitch to them, rather than the SDLP ?

  • Kevin Breslin

    What is the biggest political question in NI? The question of what country its citizens want to belong to.

    Northern Ireland’s existence works on the Principle of Consent, it’s dissolution depends of the Principle of Consent. Pacts between the SDLP and SInn Féin were needed to break unionist political hegemony, but given the Agreement is a game changer away from the “selfish strategic interest” the only pact the SDLP and Sinn Féin need to maximise the nationalist vote is not to make a pact at all, but allow the spectrum of views to exist through competitive, pluralist but inclusive politics that can draw a political consensus from the majority. In other words the pact not to make pacts.

    How is Irish nationalism unifying Ireland if politics become about the selfish, strategic and economic interests of parties here?

  • Alan N/Ards

    Robin, What’s the point in SF winning Westminster seats if they don’t plan to represent the people at parliament? Keeping “themmuns” out because they are unionists is wrong if they refuse to take their seats.

  • Robin Keogh

    Keeping themmuns out is part and parcel of all electoral competition. Given a choice between a left wing nationalist candidate and a right wing Unionist, people have the choice in front of them, and they have the final say.

    Northern westie MPs have no imput, impact or power in London. In fact NI is probably the only region of any country in the developed world where their politicians have zero hope of ever sitting in the national government. However SF do have offices in London and they do lobby.

    I am not so sure that abstention is cast is stone. If taking their seats could stop Unionists forming a UK gov, they would be on the first available flight.

  • Alan N/Ards

    How would you feel about “right wing” unionists in partnership in a all Ireland government? You are giving the impression that they are beyond the pale because they are “right wing”. But maybe you’re opposed to them because they are unionists, and not because of their conservatism. The PUP are a working class, left wing party, but I somehow doubt that you would back them.
    Are you sure that SF and the SDLP are actually left wing?

  • Tochais Siorai

    Wouldn’t be any need for electoral pacts if this nonsensical first past the post electoral system was consigned to the bin of history where it belongs.

  • Kevin Breslin

    If O’Muillineoir and McDonnell inspire more South Belfast voters that Irish nationalist politicians are willing to deal with the real problems in the here and now, not just societal or constitutional divisions, they’ll show the pacts up for the embarrassments they are.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Damn right, unfortunately NI said No to AV for strong effective government and Fermanagh-South Tyrone. Just think Nationalists candidates needing Unionist votes, Unionists need Nationalists, Alliance needing loyalists and republicans … such an effort!

  • Robin Keogh

    Yes i am very much opposed to neo liberal right wing conservatism. I dont fear unionism in an irish parliament because our PRSTV system means they would have to compromise to enter government. Unlike First Past the post. Unionists in a london government could force concessions that would have a profound affect on the NI situation with no side effects in GB. The PuP pre fleg were in my mind a genuine orogressive party, in fact Ervine is a man i greatly esteem. His death was a huge loss to politics on this Island. Moreover, when NI21 launched i wrote to them wishing the best. It was great to see the birth of genuine social democratic unionist party. I hope they get their ducks in a row and have another go. ..Yes, SF are left, SDLP are centre left