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Saturday, 29 June, 2002, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
SDLP 'should link' with Fianna Fail
Northern Ireland's Social Democratic and Labour Party has been urged to consider a formal link-up with the Fianna Fail party in the Irish Republic.

Tom Kelly, a former vice-chairman of the SDLP, said he believed Fianna Fail would be better suited than the Irish Labour Party, with which the SDLP has existing links.

Fianna Fail, led by Irish premier Bertie Ahern, is in government in the republic.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has already said he wold not rule out a merger with one of Ireland's political parties in the future.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern leads Fianna Fail

Speaking last month, Mr Durkan, who is also Northern Ireland's deputy first minister, said he believed there would be a natural realignment across the island in years to come.

While he would not be drawn on any one party, he predicted such a move in the longer term would be in line with the political changes happening across the island.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Politics programme on Saturday, Mr Kelly said there was more common ground with Fianna Fail than with Labour.

"I think what you have to look at is what are the real principles of the SDLP and it is a European party and Fianna Fail have proven in government that they're a European party too.

"I think we share a lot in common with Fianna Fail. We're a broad churched party and that's reflected in Fianna Fail too," he said.

"Fianna Fail is very much a catch-all party from the businessman to the binman and that's what the SDLP is about too."

See also:

23 May 02 | N Ireland
25 Jun 02 | N Ireland
26 Feb 02 | N Ireland
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