>> 31 Aug 2004

Pot, Kettle, Black

Mark Durkan, leader of the irrelevant SDLP, has admonished the Government for what he claims is its collective concentration on placating the more 'extremist elements threatening the political process.' What he fails to mention is how the 'moderates' of the UUP and SDLP came to be marginalised in the first place, thus allowing the 'extremists' to take over the mantle of Ulster's political scene. I assume his lack of honesty would preclude him from admitting that the central thrust of the SDLP over 7 years was always the elevation of common nationalist principles over the desirability of forming a coalition with fellow democrats.

There were numerous occasions after 1998 when the SDLP had the chance to cut violent terrorism adrift and form a coalition with MLA's wholly committed to peaceful means. It chose to manacle itself to Sinn Fein/IRA instead. This move had nothing to do with motivations of bringing republicanism into the constitutional fold, and everything to do with maximising a separatist agenda and sacrificing stability into the bargain. The relationship between the two seapratist parties is something like the mating ritual of the praying mantis: the SDLP may have fertilised Sinn Fein/IRA, but it has allowed itself to be devoured for its efforts. The Government is certainly ignoring the SDLP due to its electoral decline. Nonetheless, Mr Durkan's party has orchestrated its own demise, thus creating the situation it now finds itself in.


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