Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has made a formal complaint to the Irish government over "interference" in the general election.
Gerry Adams has made a complaint to the Irish government
Last Monday, Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern toured South Down with the outgoing SDLP MP Eddie McGrady.
Mr Adams has rejected an explanation by the Irish government that Mr Ahern was fulfilling a long standing engagement.
"It's obviously intervention and not just by Fianna Fail but by the government," said Mr Adams.
The Sinn Fein president told the BBC's Inside Politics programme on Saturday that the move was "no surprise".
"At every single election, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the PDs (Progressive Democrats) and the Labour Party have all come and campaigned on behalf of the SDLP," he said.
Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell is backing the SDLP
"They've been in most of the constituencies. So that's par for the course.
"What is new is that a minister would come in, as Dermot Ahern did, and I think he made a mistake and that he overstepped his responsibility."
SDLP Newry and Mourne candidate Dominic Bradley accused Mr Adams of "partitionism" over the comments.
"Unionist politicians have always complained about southern figures coming up north. Jaws will drop now that Gerry Adams is making the same complaint," Mr Bradley said.
At the weekend, Irish Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte will visit Londonderry to back the SDLP leader, Mark Durkan.
Next Monday, Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell will visit Belfast to show his support for the SDLP's election campaign.
Mr McDowell will carry out an engagement with SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell and have a private meeting with Secretary of State Paul Murphy.