SDLP meet Greens to discuss 'areas of common cause'

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood with his Green counterpart Steven Agnew at Stormont yesterday

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood yesterday held discussions with his Green counterpart Steven Agnew to explore "areas of common cause".

The Foyle MLA also plans to meet People Before Profit's Eamonn McCann and Gerry Carroll, in a move which could see the potential development of a loose 'progressive alliance' on the Stormont benches.

Mr Eastwood noted that the Greens and PBP did not qualify for a place in the programme for government negotiations but he said it was important "progressive parties have a strong voice in these talks".

The SDLP leader said his party was committed to securing a "progressive and ambitious" policy plan for the forthcoming mandate.

"Today we discussed the critical need to address the north's spiralling housing crisis with an increase in social housing provision," Mr Eastwood said after the meeting.

"We also talked about increasing support for early years projects and pre-school childcare and I was pleased to discuss our common interest in reversing the disinvestment in renewable energies in communities like the Antrim and south Down coasts where we can be global leaders in new technologies."

Fellow Foyle MLA Mr McCann said he had yet to discuss the proposed meeting with his party colleague but he could see know reason why they could not sit down with the SDLP.

Mr Agnew described the meeting with Mr Eastwood as "constructive". He said he had highlighted his party's investment priorities in the Green New Deal, early years provision and progress on integrated education.

"No party has a monopoly on good ideas," the North Down MLA said.

"My focus is on delivery for the people of Northern Ireland and I will not waste an opportunity to progress change."

Programme for government negotiations between Stormont's five parties are due to begin next week.

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