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Sinn Fein election pact call as unionists unite in Fermanagh & South Tyrone

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A SINN Fein MP has called for the SDLP to stand aside in Fermanagh & South Tyrone and give his party a clear run at unseating the UUP's Tom Elliott in the forthcoming Westminster election.

Francie Molloy, who currently represents the neighbouring Mid-Ulster at Westminster, says there is "a need for the SDLP to recognise unionism is teaming up to keep nationalists out".

And the SDLP locally have stated their support for co-operation with Sinn Fein and other parties in a so-called "anti Brexit alliance".

DUP leader Arlene Foster, an MLA for Fermanagh & South Tyrone, has confirmed her party will not contest the seat and will endorse the candidacy of Mr Elliott.

The former UUP leader took the seat from Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew by 530 votes in 2015 off the back of an election pact with the DUP and TUV.And it is highly likely Mr Elliott will be the only unionist on the ballot paper when it comes to polling day on 8th June.

The sitting MP was formally selected by party delegates at a meeting last Thursday night in Fivemiletown.

However, the apparent willingness of senior figures in both of nationalism's lead parties to come to an arrangement on a pact means there could be an agreed "anti Brexit" candidate.

The most likely person to fill that role will be Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew, although the local association has yet to formally nominate a candidate.

 

Speaking to the Courier, Francie Molloy stressed his support for an agreed candidate.

He said: "I think it would be important there's an anti Brexit alliance.

"It would give people the opportunity to reinforce their opposition to Brexit.

"You could have a position where the anti Brexit view could have 11 out of 18 seats, which would be representative of how 11 out of 18 constituencies in the north voted to remain.

"I think there's a need for the SDLP to recognise unionism is teaming up to keep nationalists out.

"This is needed particularly in Fermanagh & South Tyrone where the seat has been highly contested - it would be beneficial if the SDLP and other parties stood aside."

Mr Molloy further stated a withdrawal in Fermanagh & South Tyrone by the SDLP "would have to be part5

of a negotiation" with the SDLP over other areas.

He also stated his belief that anti Brexit representatives taking a majority of Northern Ireland's seats at Westminster would strengthen the case for Irish unity.

"If you return with 11 out of 18 then the argument for unionists to stay under the British is lost completely.

"It is very clear the move is towards Irish unity and we want to involve unionists in managing that change and bringing it forward in an orderly way."

The SDLP's Patsy McGlone said an agreement between parties opposed to leaving the European Union is a "pretty good idea".

"Brexit remains a huge issue," Patsy told the Courier.

"If there was a way to maximise the forces against Brexit that would be good.

"I'm entirely rowing in behind the idea of an anti Brexit coalition."

However, the UUP's Tom Elliott says he would be "surprised" if there was a pact between Sinn Fein and the SDLP and says he is confident he can retain his seat, despite a surge in Sinn Fein support at last month's Assembly election.

He said: "When you go in to elections, all bets are off, but of course we go in confident.

"It's going to be important over the next couple of years that there's representation at Westminster and the voice of Fermanagh & South Tyrone needs to be heard and Sinn Fein won't be there to make that happen regardless."

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