SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has condemned attempts to intimidate SDLP candidates across the North after a series of incidents saw campaigns come under attack and candidates told to leave communities.
West Belfast candidate and food bank director Paul Doherty was approached by men in the Shankill area of the city last night and told that he and his team would not be welcome and would have their campaign materials taken.
East Belfast Candidate Charlotte Carson had election posters set on fire on Cyprus Avenue last night in scenes which were attended by the Fire Service.
Strangford Candidate Conor Houston had more than 20 posters stolen in the Newtownards area at the end of last week.
Colum Eastwood MP said:
“SDLP candidates are out every day serving their communities and working hard to build a better future for all our people. These attacks on our party, our candidates and our campaign are totally futile - we have come under attack from violent thugs before. We have beaten them every time. We will beat them again.
“Some people want to make this election campaign a toxic race to the bottom on protocol and identity politics. They want to stop us reaching out to the people across all our communities who are begging for help to heat their homes and feed their kids - real problems that transcend political or community background. Wherever people need help, the SDLP will be there for them. We won’t back down.
“These attacks are even more outrageous because they have been committed against a new generation of leaders in our party. Paul Doherty - a food bank director feeding hundreds of families every week and delivering humanitarian aid to Ukrainian civilians. Charlotte Carson - a teacher in an integrated school with a passion for empowering young women and girls. Conor Houston - a man who has dedicated his life to reconciliation and peace building between our communities.
“Our candidates are a threat to no one but those who want to keep us all in the past. Paul, Charlotte and Conor are shattering old certainties, they are stepping up and stepping in to put people first. And they will have my support every step of the way.”