Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's O'Dowd takes a pop at SDLP 'spoilers'

By Noel McAdam

Sinn Fein has described the SDLP as "spoilers" after it refused to stand aside in two constituencies to give the republican party a free run at the seats, which were held by unionists.

John O'Dowd said Colum Eastwood and his party were deluding themselves if they believed taking their places at Westminster will make any difference to Northern Ireland.

The SDLP has firmly rebuffed suggestions it should stand aside in North Belfast and Fermanagh-South Tyrone, won last time by the DUP and UUP.

"The SDLP have been taking their seats at Westminster for decades and they still cannot point to any situation where they have affected substantial change to the British Government's policies in the North," Upper Bann candidate Mr O'Dowd said.

"Indeed, they failed to safeguard the interests of the North at Westminster during the Brexit debate. They are now intent on entering spoiler candidates in constituencies where they know they haven't a snowball's chance in Hell of winning.

"They know it is down to a straight fight in North Belfast and Fermanagh-South Tyrone between the progressive, anti-Brexit, pro-equality Sinn Fein candidate and an austerity, Brexit, Tory-supporting unionist candidate."

SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan hit back: "The SDLP will take no lectures on Brexit from John O'Dowd, a man who said parties which endorsed special status had given up on the Remain campaign only days before his party endorsed special status."

The party's West Tyrone candidate added: "The only spoilers in this election are Sinn Fein. If they are serious about maximising anti-Brexit representation, they should stand down their own candidates in favour of people who can take the fight to the Tories."

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