Breen on SDLP/FF

The usually well-informed Suzanne Breen has an article in the Village today suggesting a Fianna Fail – SDLP merger is on the cards after the Westminster election.

Courtesy of Newshound:

An SDLP source added: "The growing confidence of the Catholic community in the North means an all-Ireland, not a six-county, party is the way forward."

Another SDLP source said the position of those who oppose a merger would be weakened after the Westminster election.

The SDLP could possibly win only one seat – South Down. It is set to lose Newry and Armagh to Sinn Féin and party leader, Mark Durkan, is facing a tough battle against Sinn Féin chairman Mitchel McLaughlin in Foyle.

"The meltdown in May will show there is not other option for us but Fianna Fail," said an SDLP proponent.






3 responses to “Breen on SDLP/FF”

  1. David Vance avatar

    Very possible. A year or two ago I hypothesised an alternative – the SDLP merging with the UUP. My rationale was that this could capture sufficient middle-ground support to represent a third pillar to Sinn Fein and the DUP. Since Durkan and Trimble pledge fealty to the GFA before anything else, why not? Naturally, I have contempt for BOTH parties, and Suzanne may be right that the May demise of the SDLP may sprak the merger with Fianna Fail. Interesting times.

  2. Tom Griffin avatar

    In terms of the middle ground, it might be interesting to see what happens to the Labour tendency within the SDLP.

  3. Tom Reilly avatar
    Tom Reilly

    “Recent changes to the Labour Party constitution allowed people resident in Northern Ireland to become members. The Northern Ireland Labour Forum is, de facto, a Labour Party branch. It has the same constitution, rights and obligations as other Labour branches, including rights to submit resolutions to conferences, and to stand for party office.
    The Northern Ireland Labour Forum was set by the Labour Party to create a political home and platform for those on the centre left, as well as to create political space and widen political debate beyond current narrow confines.
    The Labour Forum has been set up in an inclusive way and is open to dual members – those members who are also members of our sister Parties in Europe and the wider international socialist movement, the SDLP, British Labour or other European Socialist Parties. Labour is also cognisant of the current movement, or balance of power, amongst political forces within Northern Ireland. We aim to contribute in whatever way we can to the consolidation of the peace process and to the restoration of democratic and accountable institutions in Northern Ireland and between North and South.
    Labour are very serious about this development. At one level, we are creating a political home for those in Northern Ireland who have a political contribution to make but do not feel they fit within the current communal political set-up. At another level, whilst it may be too early to speak of radical political realignment across the island, we are looking to create a structure which could respond quickly to any political fluidity or change in the future.”
    Speech of Pat Rabbitte T.D. Leader, Labour Party on the occasion of the launch of the Northern Ireland Labour Forum
    ”I see it more than simply as a question of whether or not the Labour Party organises in Northern Ireland, because there are issues in respect of our sister party, the SDLP. There’s also of course the acknowledgement that Sinn Fein is a socialist party, and we need to accept their role within Northern Ireland.”
    “I do see a gradual movement towards greater political involvement and I see no reason why the Labour Party members from Northern Ireland shouldn’t be standing at local level for instance. We do need to understand what the position is in terms of standing at national level.”
    “As Labour Party members, they will vote for other parties. It’s a tricky line to cross that we have to respect as well. We will have Labour Party members who are SDLP or Sinn Fein, Ulster Unionist or DUP. That’s happening. So there is a road to travel.”
    “ We also have to look very carefully at the need to build relationships between Labour Party members in Northern Ireland and the Irish Labour Party. I’d welcome an understanding and an allegiance between the Irish Labour Party and our members in Northern Ireland, so that they can have a shared future and an agreement as to how they can campaign in future.”
    ”There is a role even now, before all that work’s gone on, for the Labour Party in Northern Ireland to formulate more strongly its branch and to allow them to campaign on key issues, such as the referendum on the EU.”
    “I’ve worked with Labour activists. From a personal point of view, I have said I would commit myself to trying to raise the game for them and to increase the involvement that they can have in Labour Party politics.”
    Tony Clarke MP (Labour) Chair of NI select committee
    “We should not beat ourselves up over the border. Socialists and social democrats can be members of more than one party on this island.”
    Councillor Mark Langhammer (Independent Labour) Chair of NI Labour Forum
    “The most appropriate option for the SDLP in the event of realignment is clear. The party most akin in its broad appeal, its competence in government and in its confidence and representation of the New Ireland is Fianna Fáil. Both parties have made difficult choices at times of great turmoil in the country. When it would have been easy to resort to the politics of the street and submit to the temptation of force, both parties chose constructive politics and attempted to build their societies rather than destroy them.
    Now, at the beginning of a new century, Fianna Fáil is a natural party of government with the instincts and ability to deliver the services and structures that will form the basis of a truly united Ireland. It is a party with the support of ordinary decent people, who recognise what real political priorities are: health, education, employment.
    This is also the natural home of the SDLP and it is for this reason that Fianna Fáil will never choose to compete against the SDLP directly.”
    Tom Kelly is an executive member of the SDLP
    “Changes in the electoral systems are also a factor. Historically a fear of splitting the nationalist vote has been the best argument against Fianna Fáil contesting Northern elections. In the “first past the post” electoral system for Westminster this could have cost nationalist seats.
    Now three of the four elections in the six counties which Fianna Fáil might contest – local, European and Assembly – are fought on a proportional representation system, so transfers would restrict this risk.
    In addition the Good Friday agreement institutions have reduced the importance of representation in London,and so the question of attending or abstaining from the Westminster parliament, which might otherwise have been a stumbling block for Fianna Fáil, is also less significant.”
    Noel Whelan is a former political organiser at Fianna Fáil headquarters
    “I stated that in the context of peaceful developments towards and into a united Ireland, I could envisage major political realignments which might include a Fianna Fail/SDLP axis at some point; that I had grown up in a tradition in which De Valera and the principles of Fianna Fail were held in great esteem, and I would not have a problem with such a hypothetical realignment in ten years or so. My own party leader, Mark Durkan, has already said that there could be major realignments.”
    PJ Bradley MLA (SDLP)

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