Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Voters are telling SDLP European election candidate Alex Attwood 'our politics is stagnated and it's time for something different'

Alex Attwood (centre) along with fellow European election candidates and others during a debate last week
Alex Attwood (centre) along with fellow European election candidates and others during a debate last week

The most interesting part of the Belfast Telegraph 'European election survey' for me was the fact that it is broadly reflective of what I am hearing on the doors in Derry and what our European candidate Alex Attwood is hearing as he travels across the North.

Alex has been on the road since early January, six or seven days a week meeting community and voluntary groups, business organisations, farmers and fishermen, working parents, hard pressed families, charity and advocacy groups and others.

What they are telling him is very clear. Our politics are stagnated and it is time for something different.

People are responding really positively when Alex is telling them of the need for a stronger, more decisive voice in Europe, and the need for an MEP who can be part of the largest grouping in the Parliament with the influence and power that will bring. Northern Ireland has lost ground in Europe.

When our former party leader, Nobel Laureate John Hume was an MEP he open doors, raced through them and maximised every opportunity for the people of the North. It can often be the case that European Parliament Elections here don’t focus on European issues.

But this time, this election needs, in part, to be about Europe if we are to secure the ground that we have lost. The SDLP’s partners in the European Parliament want to help. That is why the current President of the European Parliament and the Party of European Socialist’s Common Candidate for the European Commission, Martin Schulz MEP visited Belfast this week to endorse Alex’s campaign and offer support to the SDLP.

If elected Alex would sit with those Party of European Socialist colleagues with the Social and Democratic grouping, which is expected to be the largest in the Parliament after the election. As part of that large group Alex Attwood like John Hume will be able to push open those doors and race through them. All for the benefit of the people of the North.

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