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Monday, 25 May, 1998, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Sinn Fein calls for pre-electoral pact with the SDLP

As campaigning got underway for next month's elections to the new Northern Ireland assembly, the political wing of the IRA, Sinn Fein, said it would seek an electoral pact with the biggest Roman Catholic party in the province.

Sinn Fein's vice president, Pat Doherty, told a news conference that an alliance with the SDLP was needed to garner enough support for the nationalists to be on equal terms with parties representing the Protestant majority.

Earlier, Sinn Fein called for direct talks with the biggest unionist party, the Ulster Unionists, on future co-operation.

The poll is one of the main elements of the peace plan which was endorsed by voters in a referendum on Friday.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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