SDLP’s ‘unprecedented’ conversations begin

The Belfast Telegraph today reports on the first of what will presumably be a number of “unprecedented” conversations within the SDLP.

The SDLP’s Mid Ulster constituency council will discuss a possible merger with Fianna Fáil at a meeting in Maghera.

Local Councillor Martin Kearney said

“These are normal discussions which happen after every election,
“We’ve a great variety of old members and the young SDLP branch in Maghera is very active.
“We want to listen to them, there’s been such a lot of change.”
Quizzed on a merger with Fianna Fáil he said that 
“All options are on the table. 
“There have been many times this has been discussed before, this is not something new.” 

Former Director of Communications for the party Ruairi O’Kane has been reflecting on the election outcome at and believes the party cannot afford another bad election :

“Realignment has been mooted in the past – it may now be the only option for the future.”

There are other views in the party however. Claire Hanna, now the party’s leading representative in South Belfast, said

“I don’t see what that solves, it doesn’t appeal to me,”

Over the years many in the SDLP associated themselves strongly with Fianna Fáil in the south. However many also looked to Labour and some to Fine Gael.

If the SDLP do undertake a series of unprecedented conversations it will also prove uncomfortable. Increasingly though an all-island amalgamation (with the organisational and financial support that comes with it) looks to be the only show in town.