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Alasdair McDonnell endorsement of PD policy highlights deep SDLP divisions

16 April, 2005

South Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey today said that the decision by Alasdair McDonnell to invite Michael McDowell into the constituency on Monday while Pat Rabbitte travelled to Derry with Mark Durkan was further evidence of growing divisions within the SDLP leadership over policy and direction.

Mr Maskey said:

"It is now very clear that the SDLP is a deeply divided party. This got some public airing over the selection of a candidate in West Tyrone. All that unites the SDLP is an anti- Sinn Féin hysteria.

"In the past week Fianna Fail have attached themselves to elements within the SDLP, the Irish Labour Party have joined other parts of the party and now we learn that Alasdair McDonnell is inviting Michael McDowell into South Belfast. None of this is about policy, it is all a desperate bid to stop the continuing rise in Irish republicanism and the journey towards Irish unity and independence.

"By this action and previous actions including joining with unionists in City Hall to become Deputy Mayor in defiance of John Hume, McDonnell clearly finds himself at home as the leading unionist within the SDLP ranks. Michael McDowell has never lifted a finger in defence of the rights and entitlements of northern nationalists, he recently of course claimed that inequality in society was a positive thing and his record on ethnic minorities is appalling. Alasdair McDonnell is clearly now openly endorsing these PD positions." ENDS

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