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As you know I am standing for the SDLP , as Euro candidate in the Elections on the 4th of June .I have been campaigning  right  across the North for the past  five  months  and I am convinced ,given the warmth of the reception and  the goodwill towards my candidacy that  I can regain the Euro seat for the SDLP. What is crucial is that the SDLP vote comes out to vote strongly on Election Day. Over the past few years the SDLP vote has been seriously damaged by SDLP voters not coming out to vote, but staying at home. They have stayed at home for a number of reasons, not least because they were disheartened by the dominance of the DUP and SF. They thought that it was futile to vote SDLP given the dominance of both parties and of course thereby creating a self - fulfilling prophesy. But if the SDLP vote is properly mobilized and maximized, as it is being done at the moment in constituencies throughout the North, we will undoubtedly win one of the three seats. There are enough SDLP votes to win a seat on our on steam. Remember in 2004  although the SDLP only had 87 thousand votes, the next year in 2005 our total vote was 125 thousand votes, nearly  40 thousand votes extra  within the space of one year .And why was there that substantial increase? .It was because in 20005 , SDLP voters realized that they could win seats such as Foyle and South Belfast. That sense of winability made SDLP voters come out and vote  as they knew they could be successful .In this election it is clear that SDLP can win and that there is a very real sense of winability growing within the electorate. If this is sustained then SDLP voters will come out to vote in an election that they believe is very winnable. For the SDLP this election is a bit like South Belfast, but on a larger scale across the whole of the North. With serious unionist divisions and mid term dissatisfaction, there is a very real chance of winning an SDLP seat.

Our slogan in this election is, “When we win, you win.” When the present incumbents won five years ago, you the people of North Belfast and across the North lost. Without the SDLP the North lost its most effective voice in the European Parliament. Why should we return three Euro-sceptic MEPs who cannot attract the sympathy and goodwill of our European neighbours? The SDLP is a member of the Party of European Socialists, one of the largest and most powerful groupings in the Parliament. That gives us real influence at the very heart of Europe. We have strong policies for you in our manifesto and the record to back these up. The SDLP is the only major party in the North that is pro-Europe and we have used our influence in Europe to deliver for you in the past. Just remember the colossal work done for you by John Hume in the European Parliament .Here in North Belfast we cam appreciate on the ground the effective work of John Hume in the European Parliament, in particular the benefit of the Peace Funds. This election should be about people and their priorities, not some sectarian head count. This election is about sending effective hard working, skilled, representatives to the European Parliament, not about winning an electoral trophy that we can view in our cabinet for the next five years. Topping the poll means nothing in a PR election. Maximising effective representation should be the aim of the electors.

Other parties will make all sorts of promises about what they will do for you over the next five years. But I ask what they’ve done over the last five years? They have no influence or record in Europe and we are all paying the price for that. When they win, we all lose.

Like most people in North Belfast I lament the five wasted years of inept representation in the European Parliament. People in North Belfast do not need to be reminded about the positive impact Europe has had on their lives; they see it everyday. One thing is clear the other parties have not delivered in Stormont, and they have not delivered in Europe either. As businesses go to the wall and ordinary decent people suffer, Sinn Fein and the DUP have failed to show any sort of leadership. They may be in office, but do not govern.

Northern Ireland needs to be at the heart of Europe again. Only the SDLP can restore your voice in Europe and your faith in government. It’s time for us all to win again. And I can win, not for me or for the SDLP, but for you – because your needs will always be my priority. A better future for us within Europe will be my goal. When I win, you win.

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