A key part of Alasdair McDonnell’s SDLP Leadership Campaign….was his plan to make the SDLP “battle ready” with SDLP representatives appointed to fill gaps in the Partys strength and give the Party a visible presence in places where it was losing ground.
Alasdair McDonnell made good on that promise today with the first wave of tenappointees. They are Pat McDaid (Craigavon), Yvonne Leonard (Newry), Oonagh McNickle (Limavady), Nicola Turtle (Lisburn), Serena Hyland (Dungannon), Anne Sheridan (South Armagh) and John Coyle (Irvinestown). It also includes a friend Malachy Quinn (Dungannon) and a young woman, Christine Wilson (Lisburn) who I have met a few times and who was elected to the SDLP Executive last month.
The name getting most prominence in the story is Peter Devlin from North Belfast. I also met Peter at last months Conference. He is the son of SDLP legend…..and wider socialist legend Paddy Devlin. I declare an interest here. I canvassed alongside the late Paddy Devlin on my first night as a SDLP member in May 1973…nearly thirty nine years ago.
There is something exciting going on in SDLP. It wont all be plain sailing but there’s something in the air…….which is hard to explain. And it seems good.