Northern Ireland

SDLP rejects Martin McGuinness call for election pact

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Media captionMartin McGuinness said pro-agreement politicians should join together in the face of pacts

The SDLP has rejected a call from Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness to establish pacts like those agreed by unionists in the May general election.

Mr McGuinness challenged the SDLP to agree not to stand candidates in constituencies where unionist parties agreed pacts.

Mr McGuinness said pro-agreement politicians should unite against this.

But the SDLP has rejected the idea saying it is opposed to any kinds of pacts.

Alex Attwood said Irish nationalism was "bigger and better" than that.

Mr McGuinness had said Sinn Féin would reciprocate any move by the SDLP.

He suggested the two parties could agree on seats in Fermanagh, South Tyrone, Upper Bann and North Belfast.

But Mr Attwood ruled out any such move.

Image caption Alex Attwood said the SDLP would not reduce elections to a head count

"Our question to Martin McGuinness is; northern nationalism and Irish democracy has never followed the lead of unionism, why now should we follow what Peter Robinson (DUP) and Mike Nesbitt (UUP) are trying to do in reducing elections to a head count?

"Irish nationalism and Irish democracy is bigger and better than what unionism reduces politics to."

On Wednesday, DUP leader Peter Robinson told BBC Northern Ireland's Good Morning Ulster that he was proposing a joint unionist candidate in Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

This was the agreement on the last occasion, when that candidate, Rodney Connor, lost by four votes.

Image caption Peter Robinson said North Belfast was "a good solid seat for the DUP"

He said that in North Belfast, he wanted the Ulster Unionist Party to stand aside for the DUP's Nigel Dodds.

"Nigel has been a very good MP for North Belfast, so it's a good solid seat for the Democratic Unionist Party," he said.

"I trust no other unionist party would seek to encourage Gerry Kelly to be the MP for the area, by standing and splitting the vote."

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