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Sun 18th April
Ms Ritchie was speaking at the Irish Labour Party Conference held in Galway on Saturday where she also gave her thoughts on the current economic situation.
She said: “I intend to turn around the fortunes of the SDLP - by showing people we have a unique vision where we are stronger on jobs and the economy; serious on building a shared society; and credible in our approach to Irish unity. Our opponents cannot deliver in these key areas.
“We are in an economic crisis, North and South, of unprecedented proportions – created for the most part by people who were rich, greedy and reckless.
“I believe we have a moral duty to make those people shoulder the burden of correction and not the people who are already struggling to get by - including junior public sector employees and the working poor.
“I am not impressed with NAMA – it is simply a rehab centre for banks. Nor do I think it was the right decision not to close, at the very least, Anglo Irish Bank. This institution is now a byword for toxicity, and its impact is not just numbers on balance sheets or deserted housing developments. Right now it could well cost thousands of peoples’ jobs in the border counties. It should not have been rescued.”
Ms Ritchie also said she intends to maintain good relations with all parties in the south.
“There has been talk of us joining with Fianna Fail and there are some in the SDLP who like such a proposition. But let me make our position clear: merger with Fianna-Fail? – Not on my watch.
“Our policy is to maintain good relations with all parties in the South and, truthfully, I have great regard for Brian Cowen and Enda Kenny as well as, of course, for Eamon.”
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