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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 April, 2005, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
SDLP calls for a 'decent peace'
Mark Durkan

The SDLP has launched its election manifesto for all 18 Westminster seats in Northern Ireland.

The party reaffirmed its opposition to any attempt to replace compulsory power-sharing at Stormont with a voluntary coalition.

Mark Durkan said voters needed to stand strong because left to its own devices the IRA would not go away.

"We know, not least from the McCartneys, that it's not what they say but what they do that counts," he said.

Mr Durkan was referring to the family of Robert McCartney, a 33-year-old father of two who died after he was stabbed following a row in a Belfast bar in January.

SDLP MANIFESTO
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The IRA has been blamed for the murder and interference with evidence and witnesses.

Mr Durkan said his was the true republican party and he wanted a decent peace, real progress and a lawful society.

During the launch on Wednesday, he also ruled out any possibility of voluntarily going into a coalition government with the DUP which excluded Sinn Fein.

The main points of the SDLP manifesto include:

  • Bringing in a new sectarian and hate crimes act to tackle incitement to hatred on the internet and through the display of flags or graffiti, and football terrace chanting

  • Convening a victims and survivors' forum to design a truth remembrance process and ensure assets recovered from criminal and paramilitary gangs are diverted to victims' groups

  • Advancing police personnel exchanges with the Irish Republic's police in areas such as serious crime, drugs, community policing, criminal assets, fingerprinting, ethical standards and training

  • Creating a fair rates system based on ability to pay

  • Opposing the privatisation of water services and creation of a government-owned water company, domestic metering and water charges

  • Campaigning for the adoption of the euro by the British government

    SDLP mainfesto pledges to focus on health service priorities
    SDLP pledges support for acute hospital services for Tyrone and Mid-Ulster

  • Ensuring primary healthcare services are well funded with a real partnership between GPs and other health professionals

  • Allocating significant funds to acute hospital services for Tyrone and Mid-Ulster

  • Securing free nursing care for the elderly

  • Widening access to third level education, targeting low-income families and dedicating extra spending to those with disabilities, students with dependants and mature students

  • Investing in schools and opposing efforts to use new pupil profiles as a means of back door selection

  • Replacing A-levels with a broader post-16 curriculum

  • Investing in public transport, enabling bus and rail services to meet their passenger charter standards and delivering long-term growth as well as securing capital investment for the Belfast to Londonderry rail-link

  • Devising an aviation strategy for Northern Ireland and guarantee air access to Heathrow for planes from the province

  • Expanding rural transport initiatives, particularly demand responsive services like community taxis and "rural rover" bus services

  • Investing in community sport, encouraging greater physical activity among the population and implementing a strategic development plan for gaelic games and rugby.

  • Producing a new Irish language act offering full recognition of the language





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