Mark Durkan running for Europe … in Dublin for Fine Gael rather than Fianna Fáil #eu19 *updated*

The former SDLP leader and MP for Foyle has thrown his towel into the European election washing machine and it’s come out blue.

Mark Durkan is standing in a Dublin constituency as a Fine Gael candidate in May’s European elections. A Fine Gael press release quotes Durkan saying:

“The Taoiseach has followed through on a public promise he made last year which was that Irish citizens in the North would not be left behind, including in our ongoing standing as EU citizens, and this is one way of following through with that.

“If elected, there is a chance of an experienced northern voice being there in the European Parliament, someone who was intimately involved in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement, implementing it, understanding exactly how the politics of Westminster have played out in Brexit and elsewhere. When the European parliament is dealing with the next stage of Brexit, I would bring insight and integrity in relation to the Agreement and the interests of people in the North.

“I think it’s a very bold move by Fine Gael to recognise this, but I also hope that if I’m elected I won’t only be representing those concerns from the North but also giving representation to the rights and the needs of people in Dublin too …

“John Hume always told us to fight European elections on European issues and that is what I hope to do. “I will pledge to work with colleagues in other parties and beyond party interests in the context of Brexit and the challenges it brings.”

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar – who wowed the Alliance Party conference dinner on Friday evening – said:

“I have invited Mark Durkan to join our party and to put his name forward to stand in the European elections for the Dublin constituency. I am pleased to say he has accepted the invitation. We are living in extraordinary times.”

While the current SDLP leader Column Eastwood has thrown his party’s lot in with Fianna Fáil, Durkan is making his strategic partnership with their main rivals in a bid to return to active politics. The SDLP issued a short yet generous statement:

“Mark Durkan provided the people of Derry with a first class public service for decades. He is a first class parliamentarian and his regrettable absence on the benches of Westminster has not gone unnoticed by parties and communities alike.

“We wish him well in the upcoming European election. Ireland can only benefit from having Mark Durkan back on a parliament bench.”

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