SDLP statement in full: Brexit cited as a reason for Fianna Fail talks

The SDLP's Colum Eastwood and Nichola Mallon
The SDLP's Colum Eastwood and Nichola Mallon

An email has been circulated to all SDLP members which speaks of needing to take members “beyond our comfort zones” in seeking a solution to the fact devolution has broken down, leaving the electorate “voiceless” in the midst of the Brexit process.

It has been obtained by the News Letter, and is in the name of leader Colum Eastwood and deputy Nichola Mallon.

It is reproduced in full below:

Dear Friends, let us begin by wishing you all a very happy new year. We hope you had a peaceful Christmas break and had time to spend it with your friends and families.

We know the many and deep challenges that await us in 2019. These islands face the biggest socio-political challenge since partition in the form of Brexit.

Businesses, farmers and people right across our communities are left voiceless at a time of great uncertainty. The absence of the power-sharing institutions has left our people powerless, leaving our society stuck in a cycle of division and failure.

That is the serious context which we have all been left to confront. In order to end this dangerous vacuum, in order to break the cycle of the last two years, it is clear that we need to be willing to embrace change. Continuing on as normal is not an option.

That change will require us to stretch us beyond our comfort zones. It will require us to think and to act creatively and courageously. However, we also absolutely acknowledge that considering that change won’t be comfortable for some and we entirely respect that position.

Since our foundation the SDLP has led much of the political advancement that Ireland has experienced. We are not prepared to stand aside and allow others to shape a future in their own narrow image. We want to be the leaders of that change again, across the entire island.

However, as a party is it our responsibility to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zone. It is this broader context on the island and the ongoing crisis in our politics which has led us to explore co-operation and partnership with Fianna Fail.

Our discussions have been based on how best to meet the challenges of Brexit, how best to restore the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement and how best to ensure that our values of reconciliation and the unity of our people can once again enter into the lifeblood of our politics.

These talks have been discussed, sanctioned and supported by our MLA team, our councillors’ association and at our management committee.

These talks are coming to a conclusion and we will of course share with you any proposal which emanates from them. We have been clear, the future of the SDLP will be decided by you, the party, our membership. Any fundamental change which we recommend in terms of the future of this party will be brought to you.

2019 is a time of great challenge and we must together rise to that challenge to deliver a New Ireland for all of our citizens. We look forward to working with you and thank you for your continued support.

Colum Eastwood, Nichola Mallon

SDLP leadership