Northern Ireland news

Potential partners quiet as Sinn Féin floats Belfast electoral pact proposal

Michelle O'Neill said a forthcoming election provided an opportunity to show the world that 'the DUP do not speak for the majority'. Picture by David Young/PA Wire

SINN Féin's potential partners in a pact that would seek to oust three DUP MPs in Belfast were last night remaining silent as behind the scenes discussions about agreed candidates were understood to be taking place.

As speculation mounts about the prospect of a general election in November, Sinn Féin northern leader Michelle O'Neill said the poll was an opportunity "to reject the DUP/Tory Brexit".

Recent research by pollsters Lucid Talk indicated that a number of DUP seats were vulnerable if a snap election is called.

Ms O'Neill said she planned to contact the north's other pro-Remain parties to "discuss how we can best maximise the pro-Remain result and unseat Brexiteer DUP."

"The pending Westminster election comes at a time of exceptional political crisis and unprecedented economic threat driven by the disastrous Brexit project – the DUP are cheer leaders for that project," she said.

"We have a unique opportunity to democratically reject that disastrous agenda and once again show Dublin, London, Europe and the world that the DUP do not speak for the majority."

Under the plan being floated, the SDLP's Claire Hanna would be given a clear run against the DUP's Emma Little-Pengelly in South Belfast, while Belfast lord mayor John Finucane would challenge Nigel Dodds in the north of the city with other anti-Brexit candidates standing aside.

The deal would also see Alliance face no pro-Remain opposition in East Belfast as it bid to unseat incumbent Gavin Robinson.

The Irish News understands SDLP leader Colum Eastwood spoke to Green Party leader Claire Bailey yesterday and was schedule to hold discussions with his Alliance counterpart Naomi Long. There was no comment from the SDLP or the Greens.

An Alliance spokesman said: “Alliance has a long-standing commitment to giving the electorate a full choice of candidates.

"We are always open to discussions with other parties. It is best that these happen in private rather than via press release or on social media."

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