Today’s South Belfast News reports that a survey of Orange Order
members found that 5% were ‘likely’ to vote SDLP and that 13.5% said it
was ‘possible’ they’d give the SDLP a second preference.
Carmel Hanna promptly replied that in her 20 years of political
activisn she never met any OO member who’d vote for her. Meanwhile,
Sinn Fein’s Stiofan Long said that this survey revealed how far the
SDLP has drifted away from the nationalist agenda.
Sometime you just can’t win.
SDLP questions Orange Order findings on voting
26 August 2006
South Belfast News
South Belfast MLA Carmel Hanna has questioned the findings of a
recent Orange Order survey, which suggest that many of its members
would consider voting for the SDLP.
The results, which are to be published next month in the journal
Electoral Studies, reveal that 5.4 per cent of respondents said they
were ‘likely’ to vote SDLP and 13.5 per cent said it was ‘possible’
they would give SDLP a second preference vote in an election.
The local SDLP stalwart said: “I have to be honest and say that in
more than two decades of political activism, I have never met a member
of the Orange Order who would give the SDLP a first preference vote.
“Given the growing trench war aspect of local politics I could
envisage the situation that in certain constituencies, where there is
an ever-decreasing chance of a unionist taking the seat no matter how
the SDLP/Sinn Fein vote split, that some more astute unionists might
vote SDLP on a pragmatic basis.
Cllr Hanna added: “It is increasingly clear that the Sinn Fein
leadersihp would love to do a deal with the DUP before November 24 so
that they could contest the Dail elections next year with political
“I have no doubt that Paisley will be trying to bring the political
careers of Adams and McGuinness to an end in futility and frustration
as the Sinn Fein leaders approach their sixties along with, of course,
bringing down the rest of us as well.”
Balmoral Sinn Fein representative Stiofan Long said that the
response to the survey of 300 members of the Orange Order showed just
how far the SDLP had drifted from a nationalist agenda.
Mr Long said: “The years since the signing of the Good Friday
Agreement has seen the Orange Order, violently at times, attempt to
destroy that very Agreement.
“While I would traet all opinion polls with a degree of scepticism,
I believe that the fact that so many respondents indicated that they
would possibly give the SDLP a first or second preference vote is an
indication of how far they have drifted from the nationalist agenda.
“This is reflected in the fact that, at present, the leadership of
the SDLP find themselves aligned with Ian Paisley on many key issues —
policing, justice and 28 day detention without trial and the
maintenance of MLAs salaries to name but three.
“Instead of joining with Sinn Fein in demanding the maximum change,
the SDLP is engaged in obsessive attacks on all things republican —
attacks which are music to the ears of the DUP, and as the poll shows,
members of the Orange Order.
“Unlike the SDLP, Sinn Fein’s focus is on defending the Good Friday
Agrement, something which the SDLP’s supporters in the Orange Order
seem to believe they have given up on.”