DUP and Sinn Féin ‘holding up’ return to Stormont business

SDLP leader says Northern electorate caught in a ‘toxic mix of anger and fatigue’

The DUP and Sinn Féin are offering the Northern Ireland public "permanent Tory governance" because of their inability to agree, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has said.

At the launch of his party’s Westminster election campaign, Mr Eastwood accused the North’s two main parties of “punishing” the electorate by their failure to go back into the Northern Executive and Assembly.

Mr Eastwood launched the SDLP campaign in Newcastle, Do Down where former party leader Margaret Ritchie is hoping to hold off the challenge of Sinn Fein's Chris Hazzard in the South Down constituency.

The party also is battling to hold Dr Alasdair McDonnell's seat in South Belfast and Mark Durkan's in Foyle.

Mr Eastwood said this was the fifth time that the Northern electorate had gone to the polls in two years. It had left people enveloped in “a toxic mix of anger and electoral fatigue”.

“This is also an election that has stalled the all-party talks process aimed at restoring devolution,” he added.


Mr Eastwood referred to Sinn Féin’s policy of refusing to take its four seats in the House of Commons.

“People should also know that because of their inability to form an Executive, the DUP and Sinn Féin are going into this election offering our people permanent Tory governance. The political maths of this election is simple. A DUP seat will only add to Tory numbers - a Sinn Féin seat won’t even get counted,” he said.

"And with a devolution vacuum, that means people like (Conservatives) Jeremy Hunt, Iain Duncan Smith and others slowly taking over our public services."

Mr Eastwood said that the “politics of constant crisis” was no way to deal with the complexity of the Brexit negotiations and with other matters.

He said that if British prime minister Theresa May were to "win a landslide in Britain" it was crucially important that she was "passionately opposed from the regions where her mandate doesn't reach".

"Every SDLP MP will sit alongside our fellow SNP MPs to represent the interests of Ireland and Scotland. We are bound together by our common resistance to this Tory government and its hard Brexit vision," he said.