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 A/V REPORTS
The SDLP
launch their manifesto
 real 56k

BBC NI's political correspondent Mark Simpson:
"The SDLP are hoping for at least three more seats in the general election"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
Seven seats prediction by SDLP
John Hume
John Hume: The party leader launched the manifesto
Northern Ireland's largest nationalist party the SDLP has launched its election manifesto.

Party leader John Hume said his party was working harder than any other party to"adhere to the terms of the Good Friday Agreement".

Referring to the years of the Troubles, he said that after decades of violence the opportunity for peace offered by the Agreement could not be wasted again.

Deputy leader Seamus Mallon predicted his party could increase its parliamentary seats from three to seven.


He said: "I think we'll go back with a very massive vote, we might well be the largest party."

He said the extra seats could be South and North Belfast, West Tyrone and Fermanagh South Tyrone.

Mr Mallon also criticised those who he said were semi-detached from the Agreement: "People are tired of being held hostage, they are tired of those who are half in, half out."

Videolink address

Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers, standing in West Tyrone, delivered part of the manifesto via videolink from her office.


People are tired of those who are half in and half out of the Agreement

Seamus Mallon
She said her canvassing so far had shown that people were "sick of the narrow, self-serving policies of some parties" and fed-up with their slogans.

She said: "Representation is not about shouting, it is about doing"

The SDLP manifesto calls for the abolition of the 11-Plus and it wants GP fundholding replaced with a more accountable modern system.

It calls for shortages in the health service to be addressed and greater resources for primary health care.

Equality issues

Alban Maginness, who is the SDLP candidate for North Belfast, said the party wanted to see emergency legislation on terrorism abolished and enhanced powers for the Human Right's Commission.

Alban Maginness
Alban Maginness: North Belfast candidate
Addressing equality issues he said Catholics still were more likely to be unemployed than Protestants and that women were still more likely to earn up to 20% less than men.

The manifesto also calls for a 5 minimum wage, new laws against racial harassment, the establishment of an envronmental agency and more efforts for energy recovery.

On Europe Mr Hume said the SDLP was the only party which had built links with sister parties right across the EU.

The SDLP slogan is "It's working, let's keep building." The party is contesting all 18 constituencies.

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