We won't follow Sinn Fein says Mallon


The Deputy SDLP leader Séamus Mallon today said his party would not follow in the "slipstream" of any other party as it struggles in the face of rising Sinn Féin support.

He described his party's endorsement of the latest proposals on reforming Northern Ireland's police service as a decision made on the merits of the case and one which showed the differences between the SDLP and Sinn Féin.

Speaking on RTÉradio, Mr Mallon said: "This is no longer a British government proposal. It is a proposal put by the British government but actually guaranteed by the Irish Government. "There is a need - a great need which is self-evident - to move forward on the whole question of policing."

He said that he could not understand how other pro-Agreement parties were unwilling to move forward on what was "probably the most central part of the Good Friday proposals".

He added: "We are not going to be in the slipstream of any other political party. We are going to make our own decisions.

"People have seen that the SDLP is a party of substance, a party of courage and a party which looks to the future and not hankers after the past in a populist way as others seem to do."

He insisted a deal could be done on the stalled peace process to save Northern Ireland's political institutions from suspension, a review or fresh elections.

He said: "A deal can always be done. I don't think more time is ever going to facilitate doing the deal but the basis of a deal is there.

"I believe it is a rational approach which has been taken by the two governments. I believe it is totally irrational to dismiss the four proposals in the way they have been dismissed.

"If the will is there then a deal will be done. If the will isn't there then we are going to be into a continuation of this uncertainty, of this type of vacuum, of this kind of diminution of hope that has led to us seeing the scenes that we saw at Ardoyne."