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Alliance baulk at joining opposition

By Rebecca Black

Published 06/06/2016

Alliance leader David Ford
Alliance leader David Ford

Alliance has turned down the chance to be in the first united opposition at Stormont - just days after the party refused to enter the Executive.

It emerged yesterday that the Ulster Unionist Party and SDLP are in talks to work together in opposition in the Assembly.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt revealed the talks yesterday ahead of the first full day of Assembly business today after last month's elections.

An SDLP spokeswoman confirmed they had spoken to the UUP, but added they had also held talks with the Green Party.

Both the UUP and SDLP were entitled to ministerial portfolios on the basis of the votes they won in the election, but chose not to join the Executive.

The new Executive is now made up of the DUP and Sinn Fein, along with independent MLA Claire Sugden who accepted the contentious position of Justice Minister.

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday Politics programme, Mr Nesbitt said his party has been in talks with the SDLP about taking a joint approach to their opposition, but that they have not yet reached agreement.

"If we are going to work together, it will be as co-equals," he said. "I've already gone out of my way to say to Colum: 'You are the SDLP leader, you're not the deputy-leader of anything'."

However, an Alliance spokesman said: "Alliance won't be entering into formal arrangements with any other party.

"Where we share common objectives, we will cooperate but there are many points of difference."

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