Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

DUP decision to run one Euro candidate recognising real chance for SDLP to win second nationalist seat

SDLP's Alex Attwood will run as the party's candidate in the upcoming European election
SDLP's Alex Attwood will run as the party's candidate in the upcoming European election

It is evident that the political landscape is changing. The news that the DUP are only going to run one candidate in the European elections is recognition of this fact.

Despite on-going speculation that the DUP would run a second candidate, Peter Robinson has voiced the opinion that there is a danger the unionist vote could fragmenting so much that a second nationalist, or as he put it ‘non-unionist’ could be elected instead.

This means that Peter Robinson is recognising the fact that there is a real opportunity for the SDLP to come through and win a second nationalist seat. It is now ‘game on’ for the SDLP on May 22. Northern Ireland needs a strongly pro-European voice to sit in the European parliament for the first time in a decade.

At a time when the British Government is creating uncertainty about their future role in the European Parliament it is more important than ever, particularly as we share a land border with the Republic, to have a strongly pro-European voice at the heart of Europe.

As the Tory Government threatens a referendum on the future membership of the EU, those here who have benefited from EU membership must be rightly concerned about the future of farming, infrastructure, funding for community and voluntary groups, support for R&D and business development.

The truth is that people deserve better. Our politics have stagnated at home, but this year we have a genuine opportunity to open up our politics in Europe and increase our influence and maximise our opportunities.

Unlike Peter Robinson who has a fear of unionism fragmenting, I have the hope that all strands of politics here can unite and get a better deal from Europe.

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