Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness has called on the SDLP to enter into an electoral pact with it in May’s General Election.
Sinn Fein has five Westminster MPs who do not take their seats and the SDLP has three MPs. SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell has, to date, rejected the overtures as “sectarian head count politics”.
May’s General Election is expected to be the closest in many years with most predicting a hung parliament or minority government.
Northern Ireland’s DUP has openly gloated at the prospect of holding the balance of power and so, too, has the SNP whose former leader and First Minister Alex Salmond is expected to return to Westminster as an MP in May.
Conversely, UKIP, whih has drawn support away from Tories and Labour in by-elections is expected to return a half dozen MPs although its leader Nigel Farage has also spoken of supporting either a Tory or Labour government in return for a referendum to take the UK oout of the EU.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that the party political TV debates to be screened during the election should also include Northern Ireland’s parties. His stance was soon supported by Labour Party leader Ed Miliband who visited Northern Ireland last week.
He promised that an incoming Labour government would ensure prosperity spread across the Irish Sea to Ireland.
Mr. McGuinness reminded his party members that they face a general election here in the UK in May and an Assembly poll in May 2016, and a general election no later than April next year in Ireland.
“These elections give us the opportunity to take more huge strides towards our ultimate goal, to put our struggle on to a new trajectory where the unity of our country and the establishment of the 1916 Republic become inevitable, “ he said.
Mr. McGuinness said Sinn Féin would play a leading role in commemorating the centenary of the Easter Rising next year
“But the most fitting tribute we can pay is to realise the Republic envisaged in 1916. We are the only party with the ability and the desire to do that. It is who we are and it is why we do what we do. And our goal is within our grasp.”