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Closer links with Sinn Fein strongly opposed
(Liam Clarke, Belfast Telegraph)
November 19, 2012
There is no appetite for cooperation with Sinn Féin among SDLP members. That is the one point that emerges with great clarity from the Belfast Telegraph's poll of delegates at the SDLP conference on Saturday (Nov 10).
We surveyed 50 members of the nationalist party at its annual conference on a variety of issues. Our first question was whether the SDLP and Sinn Féin should agree a single candidate in marginal Westminster seats where they face a single unionist unity candidate. Only 4% were in favour with 94% actively opposed.
This is in marked contrast to the situation within unionism where, in a similar survey, we found that 38% of Ulster Unionist delegates would like to merge with the DUP. The question of unionist and nationalist unity candidates may arise soon in Mid Ulster where Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin has said he will resign his Westminster seat to concentrate on the Assembly. Many unionists believe that a single candidate could take the seat against two nationalists. Asked whether they would like closer links with Sinn Féin, only 10% answered yes. Nearly seven out of those surveyed (68%) believed that Dr Alasdair McDonnell should lead them into the next Assembly election.
SURVEY RESULTS IN FULL
- Should the SDLP agree a single candidate with Sinn Fein in marginal Westminster seats where there is a unionist unity candidate?
- The Northern Ireland Assembly has 6 MLAs per constituency, proportionately more than other legislative assemblies in the UK or Ireland. Would you like to see the number of MLAs reduced?
- There must be a 7 years gap between border referenda. Should one be held within the next twelve months?
- Is Dr Alasdair McDonnell the best person to lead the SDLP into the next Assembly Election?
- MLAs have been awarded a pay rise starting in April 2013. Other parties are accepting the award. Should SDLP MLAs accept it too?
- Considering all his activity in the round, has John Larkin done a good job as Attorney General?
- Considering all her activity in the round, has Theresa Villiers done a good job as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland?
- Do you believe there should be legislation for an official opposition in Stormont like Westminster ?
- Should it be easier or harder to get abortion in Northern Ireland?( X for easier, N for harder and O for remain the same.)
- The largest Assembly party nominates the First Minister. If eve of election polls showed Sinn Fein neck and neck with the DUP, and the SDLP third, would you then vote Sinn Fein or SDLP number 1? (Y =SDLP, n=Sinn Fein O other or don't know)
- Would you like to see the SDLP form closer links with any of the following parties?
- The Ulster Unionist Party
- Sinn Fein
- Fianna Fail
- The British Labour Party
- The Irish Labour Party
- The Alliance Party
- Fine Gael
The survey of 50 SDLP members attending the party's annual conference was carried out on Saturday morning in association with LucidTalk Polling. The sample was about a quarter of conference attendees. Polling was conducted by Mary Therese Toal and Emma Gallen, both journalism students at Belfast Metropolitan College.
This article appeared in the November 12, 2012 edition of the Belfast Telegraph.
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