The SDLP has rejected any suggestion of doing a deal with the UUP ahead of next year’s General Election.
The nationalist party said it is happy to speak to all its political counterparts, but that it “will not talk about electoral pacts”.
It comes a day after UUP leader Mike Nesbitt stated in a News Letter interview that his party could agree some kind of “understanding” with the DUP and the SDLP ahead of the General Election.
Yesterday SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell said: “During the recent European election campaign the SDLP made it clear that we would not enter into electoral pacts with any party. The SDLP left it to the electorate to decide for themselves where to transfer their votes. That was the position of the SDLP in May 2014. It will remain the position of the SDLP.”
Suggestions of a deal between the UUP and the DUP, their larger unionist rivals, have been circulating for some time and Dr McDonnell added yesterday: “It may be the real reason why the UUP leader has even referred to the SDLP in the News Letter is to create a false fog around his real intentions – a pact with the DUP.”
Meanwhile, reaction flooded in from other parties to Mr Nesbitt’s interview – which also ranged over topics including the creation of symbols respecting Irish nationalism at Stormont.
DUP MLA Arlene Foster highlighted episodes such as the SDLP’s support for maintaining a dead IRA man’s name on a children’s playpark in Newry, and said “there are many more areas of agreement between the two main unionist parties in particular than there are between any of the unionist parties and the SDLP”.
“It is puzzling therefore as to what a UUP/SDLP pact would achieve, particularly for the pro-Union community.”