Thursday 23 May 2019

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood to run in European elections

Colum Eastwood. Photo: GETTY
Colum Eastwood. Photo: GETTY
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood is to contest the forthcoming European elections in Northern Ireland.

A member of the non-sitting Stormont Assembly, he confirmed the move this morning.

It will shake up a field which is currently dominated by Sinn Féin and unionist candidates.

The sitting MEPs are Martina Anderson (SF), Diane Dodds (DUP) and Jim Nicholson (UUP).

Mr Eastwood said: “This is an election like no other. In June 2016, a majority of people from communities across Northern Ireland came together to express our clear will that we should remain in the European Union.

“It was a vote that, unlike many others, saw people break free from their traditional trenches to occupy a common ground and a common identity.

“Since then, the broad progressive coalition that came together has been sidelined and silenced. Without a government in Belfast and with the DUP aligned to hard Brexit fanatics in London, people here have been ignored. Enough is enough.”

He called for the European elections to be a referendum on what people in Northern Ireland want from Brexit.

“As the most pro-Europe party in the North and the only party which joined the official campaign against Brexit in 2016, the SDLP will be a strong voice championing our shared values and opposing the destructive ideology that is leading the British Government toward a hard border on this island,” Mr Eastwood said.

The SDLP, who recently agreed a working partnership with Fianna Fáil, said the “electoral maths” are clear. Sinn Féin and the DUP are safe – but there is a race for the third seat.

“We are the best chance of returning two Pro-Europe MEPs,” Mr Eastwood said.

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