Amidst continuing speculation concerning an SDLP-Fianna Fail merger, SDLP Bangor Branch Chair Andrew Muir today announced the decision to leave the SDLP and join the Alliance Party.
Commenting on his decision, Andrew Muir stated “Whilst the SDLP contemplates it’s future, it is clear that Alliance is the only party offering a coherent and viable vision for the future. The politics of Northern Ireland are now fundamentally different than in 1998, when the Good Friday Agreement was signed, never mind 1970 when the SDLP was formed. With the SDLP on course to merge with Fianna Fail this year, I feel the time is now right to realign myself with a party in tune with the real issues facing Northern Ireland today”.
Continuing, he remarked “As a passionate supporter of the Good Friday Agreement, the Alliance Party provides me with a natural centrist home in the post-nationalist era we now live. The threat of terrorism and environmental catastrophe now means that the need for European Unity outweighs desires for old fashioned Irish Unity. As a committed pro-European I will campaign within and outside the Alliance Party for a federal Europe devoid of ancient national boundaries”.
Concluding, he commented: “My decision to leave the SDLP is, in no way, a personal criticism of Mark Durkan or the many exemplary SDLP Councillors, MLAs and MPs who continue to diligently serve their constituents. It is, on the contrary, a personal decision realign myself in light of a changing society and a changing SDLP”.
Alliance Leader David Ford said: “I am delighted that Andrew has decided to join Alliance and add their significant experience to our growing party. Local people can see that the Executive is failing to deliver under the dominance of the DUP and Sinn Fein. Ulster Unionist and SDLP members have little influence, but are tied to Executive policies. Only Alliance is in a position to present a credible and coherent alternative to the Robinson – McGuinness agenda.”
“Andrew’s move is part of a significant increase in Alliance membership. I believe that we will see others coming to join us in the future as we seek to build a united community.”