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No deal: SDLP rules out an election pact with Sinn Fein

THE SDLP have confirmed they will not be joining in a ‘pact’ with Sinn Fein locally, announcing Cllr Adam Gannon as the party’s candidate for Fermanagh South Tyrone in the upcoming election. 
It was confirmed yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) that Cllr Gannon, who was elected to the Council for the first time at the this year’s local elections, would be the party’s candidate. 
The announcement will be a blow to Sinn Fein, who were hoping the party may stand aside locally to allow Michelle Gildernew a clearer chance at keeping her seat. 
Referring to Sinn Fein’s policy of not taking seats in Westminster, Cllr Gannon said he had decided to run because local people deserved a voice while Brexit “threatens people, jobs and businesses across this island, but particularly in communities like ours where travelling across the border for work, to visit family or just to get where you need to be is an everyday fact of life.”
When asked by the Herald about the local ‘pact’, where the DUP has stepped aside for the UUP locally, and about similar pacts among the agreement reached between the SDLP and Sinn Fein in Belfast and north Down, Cllr Gannon said there was “always a chance of things becoming tribal.” 
“It suits the main political parties for it to go that way, they bounce off each other and tribalism encourages more voters into each others arms of the two main parties, though that doesn’t really apply here as the DUP aren’t standing, probably because they can’t stand over their Brexit record,” he said. 
“Brexit will also have an impact, particularly in terms of practical voting. People will choose in different seats to vote for different people.”
 Former SDLP MLA Richie McPhillips agreed that the upcoming election could end up being “another sectarian head count.”
Stating his party had always been a truly pro-EU party, Mr McPhillips said if people voted Sinn Fein they would get “an abstentionist MP who is going to go no where” and if they voted Tom Elliott “they are voting for a Brexiteer.”
He concluded: “The fact is, in Fermanagh South Tyrone the SDLP has always had a solid vote. It’s suffers when we go down the sectarian, tribal Westminster elections, but we’re just after a solid council elections.”
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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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