Speaking at a special meeting of the Alliance Party Council this evening, the Alliance Leader, David Ford, said that the SDLP will have to live up to its responsibilities if the Agreement is to be saved.
David Ford will said:
“Ever since Good Friday 1998, the SDLP has claimed to be the architect of the Agreement and its principal defender. Indeed, only last Saturday, their Leader claimed that ‘the SDLP are the backbone of the Agreement: in its negotiation, in its implementation and in the development of its potential.’
“But where is the evidence for this? In particular, where is the evidence that the SDLP are defending the Agreement in line with the Agreement itself?
“It is perfectly clear that the British Government put a proposal to the SDLP: that Republicans were in breach of their obligations to act in a solely peaceful and democratic way. Both John Reid and Mark Durkan have confirmed this.
“What neither has explained is why a motion to temporarily exclude Sinn Fein Ministers was not sent by the Secretary of State to the Assembly.
“The only explanation that makes sense is that the SDLP were just not prepared to take action against Sinn Fein to defend the Agreement. Despite all their rhetoric, the SDLP refused to act.
“Psychologists have a name for this: they call it the Stockholm syndrome. That’s what happens to hijack victims who begin to identify with their captors after days in captivity.
“In the past, many members of the SDLP stood up to Republicans and Loyalists. Now we have to ask: ‘are the SDLP suffering from the Stockholm syndrome, completely under the influence of Sinn Fein?’
“If the SDLP is to make a positive contribution to the coming Review, they will have to start to live up to their obligations to really put the Agreement first.”