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.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs