Saturday 20 July 2019

FF and SDLP to unveil 'shared principles' in coming weeks - but it's 'not a merger'

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Fianna Fail and the SDLP will announce a set of "shared principles" in the coming weeks as the long-mooted merger of the parties has been taken off the table.

The two parties based on either side of the Border will unveil plans for a "stronger relationship" between their organisations on an all-island basis.

The parties will then work together in "partnership" on issues of "common interest", according a senior Fianna Fail figure. The party source insisted Fianna Fail will not be merging with the SDLP now or any time in the near future.

"It is not a merger and its not a preliminary to a merger," a source said.

The source said the party wants to build "cross-Border engagement" with the SDLP but said Fianna Fail will not be running candidates in May's Northern Ireland local elections. The SDLP will also not run candidates south of the Border.

Neither party will share resources under the arrangement, according to the Fianna Fail source.

There has been widespread speculation in recent years over the possibility of the two parties merging since Micheal Martin announced his intention to move Fianna Fail into the North in 2014.

Last year, Mr Martin said: "I think in terms of political ideology and narrative, there are many similarities between us and the SDLP."

He was also forced to sack Eamon O Cuiv and Senator Mark Daly when they announced a Fianna Fail candidate in the North without the party's permission.

Sunday Independent

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