SDLP and Sinn Fein ‘alienating devout Catholics’

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The SDLP and Sinn Fein are increasingly alienating devoutly Catholic voters, the editor of a major Catholic newspaper has said.

Writing in The Irish Catholic, the paper’s editor, Michael Kelly, said that some of the five per cent drop in the nationalist vote last week can be explained by the swing to People Before Profit in West Belfast and Foyle.

But he argued that the loss of votes to the socialist party was “only part of the explanation”.

He went on: “One explanation I hear when I speak to Catholics who are serious about their faith is a disillusionment with both Sinn Féin and the SDLP when it comes to vital social issues.

“Sinn Féin is enthusiastically pushing for the introduction of abortion in the North, while the SDLP has made the introduction of same-sex marriage a core party principle.

“There is simply nowhere for Catholics who are serious about the defence of marriage and the right to life of the vulnerable to go.”

He added: “The SDLP is desperate to attract a younger demographic. And it appears that many of the party’s current stances are motivated by a desire to appear ‘with it’ when it comes to younger voters.

“But, the reality is that the party often appears like a less-radical version of Sinn Féin or as one now-alienated SDLP voter recently described his former party to me: ‘Sinn Féin-lite’.”