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Irish Labour Party position on Northern Rep. raises serious issues for SDLP

21 February, 2006

Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone has accused the SDLP of being complicate in generating opposition to proposals to ensure democratic representation for Irish citizens living in the north in the Oireacthas.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The Irish government have a long standing commitment to move forward on the issue of securing democratic representation for Irish citizens living in the six counties in the Oireachtas. Last week Bertie Ahern attempted to shy away from this commitment citing opposition in Leinster House led by Labour leader Pat Rabbitte amongst others.

"Since Pat Rabbitte has become leader of the Labour party in the South and Mark Durkan took over the reins of the SDLP in the North both have made much of their sister party relationship. The Labour party and its leader played key roles in recent SDLP election campaigns. It would be fair to assume then that the SDLP have a degree of influence and control over Labour policy on six county issues.

"Yet Pat Rabbitte has been at his reactionary best in leading opposition in Leinster house to democratic rights and entitlements being extended to all Irish citizens. At the same time the SDLP have publicly at least, claimed to support Northern Representation.

"The behaviour of the Labour party on this issue raises serious questions for the SDLP. Either their public position on Northern Representation is a lie and simply for public consumption in the six counties or they enjoy no influence whatsoever over a party whose position on the north under Pat Rabbitte seems closer to the DUP than any Irish nationalist or republican opinion. Either way the manner in which the Labour party have behaved on this issue raises serious questions for Mark Durkan about the relationship he enjoys with Labour and Pat Rabbitte." ENDS

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