McDonnell rejects electoral pacts
Responding to comments made by Martin McGuinness, Dr McDonnell said:
“Let me be absolutely clear, as I have been previously, the SDLP will not engage in any electoral pact ahead of the Westminster election. We will contest each of the 18 constituencies and will field strong candidates who will fight on their own merits.
“Pan-unionist and pan-nationalist pacts in the context of ‘keeping the other side out’ are nothing more than sectarian headcounts that drag politics back to pre-agreement lows. Pluralism in our politics is important, it’s the very basis of power sharing. We will not engage in any electoral tactic that seeks to undermine those principles and undermine the foundations of our democracy.
“Those parties now engaging in these pacts, or who seek desperately to, send a clear message to the electorate- they will put party self-interest above doing what’s best for the public.
“What has changed in the Sinn Féin mind set over the last few months? Only earlier this year Gerry Adams said he has no confidence in the SDLP. Now Martin McGuinness is showing his confidence by offering to stand aside Sinn Féin candidates. The cynical games are there for everyone to see. They are games that we refuse to play.
“We urge people across our communities to think about what pacts say about our politics and our democracy. The SDLP believes that we must break away from the politics of division and exclusion, we must move toward embracing true democracy and giving the people a fair choice.”