SDLP opened an office in Glengormley yesterday. Due to the annual Famine Commemoration in Newry, I was unable to attend.
This is a welcome development from a SDLP perspective as it will benefit both North Belfast and South Antrim. It is the designated office for South Antrim but is on the border line of the two constituencies.
Until a few years ago all of the “village” of Glengormley was in South Antrim. Now the village is divided with Hightown Road the line.
SDLP lost their South Antrim seat, held by Tommy Burns from Crumlin in 2011 but are in a good position to take it back in 2016.
The signs are good. In 2014, SDLP took a seat from Sinn Féin in the Antrim Town area and actually have one more seat than Sinn Féin four to three on the Mid Antrim Council. Alliance also lost a seat (high profile Alan Lawther).
At Westminster 2015, Danny Kinahan (UUP) unseated Rev William McCrea (DUP), probably with the help of tactical voting by nationalists and letsgetalongerists.
SDLP are basing their Assembly hopes on the increasing profile of Roisín Lynch, the Party Vice-Chair. She took a council seat in 2014 and was the Westminster candidate in 2015.
Certainly with safe council seats in all four local DEAs …and high visibility people like Tommy Burns, Brian Duffin and Noreen McClelland, there are reasonable grounds for optimism.
Visibility is the key. Especially in a “new town” like Newtownabbey ….commuter town where a lot of people do not have a long history.
Certainly on its second day of business, the office had some “footfall” from passers-by. Some people dropping by just to wish the new venture well. One woman particuarly glad to see it.
The office hosts a coffee morning tomorrow in aid of the McMillan Cancer Charity.
My thanks to Noreen McClelland, who makes a very good cup of tea.