Belfast Telegraph

Former SDLP leader backs partnership with Fianna Fail

Former SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie has said that she is in favour of a partnership between her party and Fianna Fail.

Speaking on BBC's The View Mrs Ritchie said the political landscape meant she had changed her mind on the issue.

While SDLP leader she said that a merger with Fianna Fail would never happen "on her watch".

The former South Down MP was speaking after months of rumours about a potential deal between the two parties.

A number of figures within the SDLP have come out against the plan, including South Belfast MLA Claire Hanna, Councillor Mairia Cahill and the SDLP Youth group.

In his New Year's message SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that his party were "ready to embrace change" and sources have suggested an announcement could be imminent.

Speaking at Stormont on Thursday Mr Eastwood declined to give any details on the plans, but said that the SDLP had a long term future in politics.

Mrs Ritchie told the BBC that any deal would not be a "take over" by Fianna Fail.

"I think people are looking for a new kind of politics that demands we do something which is different," she said.

"It's about two like-minded parties who were both involved in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement and who now want to fight the challenges of Brexit."

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