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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 23 January, 2020

SDLP Brexit spokesperson resigns over partnership with Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil and the SDLP announced their policy partnership last month.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood (centre) with Claire Hanna (left).
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood (centre) with Claire Hanna (left).
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

MLA FOR SOUTH Belfast Claire Hanna has resigned from the SDLP party today due to its decision to partner up with Fianna Fáil.

Last month, the leaders of Fianna Fáil and the SDLP held a joint press conference to announce their partnership. The SDLP voted on the deal over the weekend, formally ratifying the decision.

The two parties agreed to have partnership programme of public engagement and common policy proposals on economic development, Irish unity, Brexit, education, health, and housing.

Talks about a possible merger between the two parties have been ongoing for a number of months, however, rather than a full-on merger, the parties have merely agreed to a “policy partnership”. Fianna Fáil will not be contesting elections in Northern Ireland.

Following the announcement of the partnership, a number of politicians both in the SDLP and Fianna Fáil voiced their disappointment at the move.

In a statement on Twitter today, Hanna, who is the SDLP Brexit spokesperson, said that she remains “unconvinced that an exclusive partnership with Fianna Fáil is the right vehicle with which to deliver the non-sectarian, transparent and social democratic new Ireland”.

She added that she had given her resignation to the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood adding that it was not an easy decision.
She said she will remain an SDLP member and an MLA for South Belfast.

Commenting on the resignation, Eastwood said:

“At the SDLP Special Conference all members were afforded the opportunity to speak and delegates to vote on two motions. The SDLP membership overwhelmingly voted for the party to embark on a partnership with Fianna Fáil.

“It is with regret that we accepts Claire’s resignation. The party membership has democratically spoken and difficult though that decision may be for some, their wishes must be respected and enacted.”

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