SDLP to push for united Ireland referendum


The SDLP will seek a referendum on a united Ireland within the lifetime of the next Assembly, the party vowed today.

Mr Mark Durkan's party said in its 33-page Northern Ireland Assembly Election manifesto that it would press for a date for a referendum in the forthcoming review of the Belfast Agreement.

Mr Durkan said the SDLP was "a progressive social democratic party" determined to tackle "conflict, division and poverty" and "deliver peace, equality and justice".

In a foreword to the document unveiled in Belfast today, he said: "As a positively nationalist party, we make clear our commitment to achieving a united Ireland in which the key features, rights and protections of the Agreement will endure."

The SDLP also vowed to:· Campaign vigorously for a Yes vote in a referendum on Irish unity, engagingwith the unionist community to persuade them of its merits.

· Expand and develop north-south co-operation across all governmentdepartments as well as an all-Ireland strategy for tackling racism, anall-Ireland charter of rights and effective incitement to hatred laws.

· Resist in the review of the Good Friday Agreement any attempts torenegotiate it.

· Argue for the transfer of policing and justice powers to one department at Stormont within two years.

· Oppose efforts to put MI5 in the lead in intelligence gathering and insist it must remain in the police where it can be scrutinised.