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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 March, 2005, 10:06 GMT
SDLP considers tactical sidestep
Durkan
Mark Durkan said the SDLP was still considering whether to stand aside
The SDLP is still considering whether to stand aside in the general election in West Tyrone in favour of a local doctor, leader Mark Durkan has said.

Independent candidate Kieran Deeney won a seat in the NI Assembly over a campaign for better health services.

SDLP members in the constituency see the move as a way to unseat the current MP, Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty.

However, Mr Durkan said the SDLP would have to consider wider issues than those raised in West Tyrone.

He told BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Politics on Saturday: "There is a very strong ground swell of opinion in West Tyrone that says the hospital issue is a classic issue that needs to be addressed in singular terms.

"There is also a very strong resentment of not just what they say is an abstentionist MP, but an absentee MP."

In the 5 May election, Dr Deeny is hoping to take the seat from Mr Doherty and has called on all other political parties to stand aside.

The doctor topped the poll in the Northern Ireland Assembly election of November 2003.

Dr Kieran Deeny polled more than 6,000 votes in West Tyrone
Dr Kieran Deeny polled more than 6,000 votes in West Tyrone

He had a surprise victory when he won a seat on a single issue ticket to save hospital services in Omagh.

In February 2004, he talked about setting up his own party.

"If I simply am seen as a protest vote, I will get nowhere," he said at that time.

"We are trying to achieve an objective and do it politically. Already we are a party, a coalition, working towards a just objective. There is a danger in being single issue, being limited and excluded.

"If becoming a political party is what it takes to be recognised and to be respected and to have some weight in an assembly, then we will do that."

Since his election, Dr Deeny has been at the centre of a campaign to reverse the decision of former Health Minister Des Browne to remove acute hospital services from Tyrone.


SEE ALSO:
Trust approves new hospitals plan
24 Mar 05 |  Northern Ireland
Doctor contests Westminster seat
24 Jan 05 |  Northern Ireland
Hospital campaigner tops poll
27 Nov 03 |  Northern Ireland



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