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SDLP and Sinn Fein battle as Euro-poll moves closer

By Noel McAdam

Sinn Fein and the SDLP have clashed in the Assembly as the parties shift closer towards election mode — even though the Euro-poll is still four months away.





SDLP European candidate Alban Maginness said comprehensive equality legislation had become the latest casualty — along with the Maze sports stadium project, an Irish language act and replacement for the 11-plus — which Sinn Fein had “surrendered” to the DUP.

And his party colleague Alex Attwood earned the Speakers' rebuke after saying the failure to organise a ‘single issue' meeting of the North South Ministerial Council to focus on the economy was another example of the DUP saying ‘no' and SF saying ‘OK'.

But Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said his party and the DUP had achieved what the SDLP and Ulster Unionists had failed to accomplish — all parties meeting regularly around an Executive table.

Under UUP First Minister David Trimble and SDLP deputies Seamus Mallon and Mark Durkan, the DUP consistently refused to attend Executive meetings.

As the speaker demanded order, Ulster Unionist David McNarry repeatedly shouted at the DUP benches “you're compromised” and his party's deputy Assembly leader Danny Kennedy asked Mr McGuinness: “can we have that in writing?”

McGuinness said Maginness was indulging in “wishful thinking” and added: “It's quite easy to seize on issues if you are hoping to score political points.”

“You can heckle and mutter and moan all you like,” the Sinn Fein Minister told SDLP benches, after their Upper Bann MLA shouted that the DUP and Sinn Fein had transformed the political situation “into paralysis”.

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