SDLP embattled in election shenannigans
SDLP embattled in election shenannigans

A massive row has erupted in west Tyrone following confirmation of the SDLP’s decision to stand a candidate in the constituency against independent Assembly member and hospitals campaigner Dr Kieran Deeny.

Party activists on the ground strongly supported a recommendation that the SDLP stand aside and give Dr Deeny a free run in the Westminster poll on May 5 against Sinn Fein’s incumbent, Pat Doherty.

However, SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the party will contest all 18 of the North’s constituencies. Dr Deeny claims the decision broke a “gentleman’s agreement” with the SDLP that it would not contest the West Tyrone seat.

Meanwhile, SDLP Leader Mark Durkan yesterday released excerpts from a letter he says was sent to him by Dr Kieran Deeny in January. Mr Durkan says the excerpts disprove Dr Deeny’s claim.

The letter backed an email, also revealed this week, which indicated that Dr Deeny was agreeable to becoming a member for the party within the next four years and representing the SDLP as MP for West Tyrone if allowed a clear run against Pat Doherty next month. Dr Deeny has not denied the contents of the email.

The crisis deepened on Wednesday when Gerry O’Doherty, an SDLP councillor in West Tyrone, said he would be backing Dr Deeny and urged the public to follow his lead.

In another setback for the SDLP, a document has emerged which casts SDLP incumbent in South Down, Eddie McGrady, in a poor light.

In the 1994 memo prepared by a senior British official months before the declaration of a ceasefire by the Provisional IRA, McGrady’s opposition to the peace process and the involvement of his party leader is made clear.

It is recorded that Mr McGrady “disagrees fundamentally with the way John Hume is acting, which he thinks is elevating Sinn Fein/PIRA to a position of respectability they do not deserve (more than once he described them as the ‘scum of the earth’),” the memo states.

Mr McGrady has denied accusing either Sinn Fein of leaking the document. But he accused those who leaked it of “a desperate attempt” to blacken his name.

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