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SDLP's Claire Hanna canvasses for Fine Gael and Labour in Irish election

SDLP in official partnership with Fianna Fail

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The SDLP’s Claire Hanna has recently canvassed for Fine Gael and Labour candidates (Liam McBurney/PA)

The SDLP’s Claire Hanna has recently canvassed for Fine Gael and Labour candidates (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

The SDLP’s Claire Hanna has recently canvassed for Fine Gael and Labour candidates (Liam McBurney/PA)

The SDLP’s Claire Hanna has taken part in general election campaigning in the Republic for both Fine Gael and the Labour party.

That’s despite her party having an official partnership with their rival Fianna Fail.

The South Belfast MP joined Fine Gael’s Neale Richmond and Emer Currie as well the Labour Senator Ged Nash.

Ms Hanna said she has supported “friends” from Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

“I am a social democrat in the Irish nationalist tradition and believe in political pluralism and relationships across the political spectrum, and in supporting people who will be good for their communities and for the country,” she told the Belfast Telegraph.

“My political values are about collaboration and co-operation wherever possible,” she said.

The MP who ousted the DUP’s Emma Little Pengelly in the December General Election said her campaign last month benefited from such collaboration when rivals stood aside to allow her a free run at the seat.

Ms Currie is the daughter of Austin Currie, the former MP for East Tyrone between 1964 and 1972. She is running as a candidate in Dublin West while Mr Richmond is a Dublin Rathdown Dail candidate.

In a Twitter post, Ms Currie described Ms Hanna as a friend who was “doing her best for the community, bringing people together, focusing on positive and meaningful change”.

Mr Richmond introduced Ms Hanna to his two-year-old son Luke while out canvassing in Ballinteer, Co Dublin on February 2. The Fine Gael senator thanked her for her support describing her as “one of our country’s finest representatives”.

Just two weeks previously on January 23, Ms Hanna also canvassed in Drogheda with her husband, the Belfast Councillor Donal Lyons, for Ged Nash, a senator and a Labour general election candidate for Louth and East Meath.

Mr Nash tweeted: “Working with progressives like Claire and Donal we can build a better, fairer Ireland, north & south.”

The couple canvassed for Labour the day before the death of Seamus Mallon, who was a Freeman of Drogheda, on January 24.

“I was privileged to call him a friend,” Mr Nash said of Mr Mallon.

“A man of peace, lifelong opponent of violence and a champion of equality, justice and reconciliation on our divided island. My sympathies to his family and the SDLP.”

Claire Hanna added: “Whatever the configuration of the next government in Dublin, Northern Ireland will need TDs and Senators who understand the unique challenges we face and the dynamics within our society.”

The latest opinion poll ahead of Saturday’s election suggests Sinn Fein has overtaken both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Support for Sinn Fein now stands at 25%, according to an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll, while Fianna Fail is on 23%.

Fine Gael has dropped three points to 20% while Labour stands on 4%.

In February last year, SDLP membership voted in favour of forming a partnership with Fianna Fail, passing a motion by 121 votes to 53 at a special party conference in Newry.

Fifty-three voted in favour of an alternative proposal to widen the arrangement to include Fine Gael and Labour.

Claire Hanna, at the time an MLA for South Belfast, opposed the partnership with Fianna Fail.

“I came believing an exclusive arrangement was not a good idea, I have not changed my mind,” she said after the vote.

The SDLP and Fianna Fail have been asked for a response.

Belfast Telegraph