The SDLP’s new policy partnership with Fianna Fail divided the general public in the party’s traditional heartland of Londonderry.
The News Letter was out and about in the city centre this week to ask those passing by for their thoughts on the new alliance with the Dublin-based republican party.
In truth, the new link-up failed to make much of a splash with most of those willing to interrupt their lunch breaks and shopping trips to spend a few minutes discussing politics.
Most of those who stopped for a few minutes said they simply didn’t know enough about the new alliance to offer an informed opinion.
But those who did offer a strong view adopted conflicting stances on the decision to partner with Fianna Fail.
Hugh Roddy, an 87-year-old retiree, believes the new alliance represents a “betrayal” of the legacy of people like John Hume.
“I don’t think it will do them any good,” he said. “People like John Hume built that party up and they have betrayed those men. The SDLP should be the SDLP.”
John O’Donnell, a 46-year-old chef, isn’t entirely convinced about the handling of the partnership but said it would still make him more likely to vote for the SDLP.
“They’re going for the man and not the ball. What I mean is they’re playing politics with it at the minute and it’s not good to see all the in-house fighting. It’ll have to be a full merger at some stage.
“I think it’s a good thing that they’re conducting politics on an all-Ireland basis. I’ll have to wait and see but it would make me consider voting for them now.”
Eamon Harley, a 40-year-old council worker, said he had always been an SDLP supporter but is now worried the link-up could cost the party ‘tactical’ votes from unionists.
“I don’t really know what they’re trying to achieve. The UUP tried it with the Conservatives and it was a disaster. I don’t understand exactly how it’s going to work yet. I do know a lot of Protestants who would vote for them tactically and I’m not sure how they’re going to feel about it.”
Patrick O’Doherty, a 33-year-old who works in digital development, said he believes the SDLP has a long-term plan in mind.
“You have to think about where we are going to be in six years or further down the line. Ultimately the SDLP and Fianna Fail have in mind the island of Ireland and that’s what they’re working towards.”
He added: “Any kind of rebranding is a terrible move, but this partnership I think is a positive one.”
Padraig Mac Giolla Easpaig, a 50-year-old, said: “As a nationalist everybody aspires to a united Ireland and I think it is a brave move.”