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SDLP Defending Discrimination

30 April, 2004

Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew has accused the SDLP of 'defending discrimination'. Ms Gildernew's comments come after the SDLP MLA Tommy Gallagher praised the new voting legislation was has led to over 200,000 people being disenfranchised.

Ms Gildernew said:

" The legislation which governs elections in the six counties was passed at the behest of the SDLP in alliance with the unionist parties. It has resulted in over 200,000 people being disenfranchised. It directly discriminates against those living in working class areas, the young and those with disabilities or learning difficulties.

" Indeed only a matter of weeks ago the SDLP MLA John Dallat criticised the regulations, now we have Tommy Gallagher praising them. The SDLP cannot have it both ways.

" The SDLP promotion of this discriminatory legislation is disgraceful. They need to review their position and begin to support the principle of one person one vote. Any examination of the current electoral register with the census figures clearly shows that this is not the case in the six counties. The SDLP stance has the potential to undo much of the efforts of the Civil Rights movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The SDLP are in effect directly defending discrimination." ENDS

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