Third ‘rebel without a cause’ resigns in one of the SDLP’s sure fire #AE16 constituencies…

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 14.28.57So the SDLP holdouts in West Tyrone have a third defector: timed, presumably, for maximum disruption of the party’s manifesto launch this morning. Last week the party’s campaign launch was the target.

Joanne Donnelly, from the Omagh end of what’s a rather disparate constituency, is the youngest and the latest councillor to leave. It’s not clear either from the MSM reporting or the various statements what it’s all about.

Here’s the party’s statement:

“These issues are difficult. We’re a democratic party, we’ve had two selection conventions – one to replace Joe Byrne as an MLA, the other to decide who our candidate was going to be,” Mr Eastwood said.

“We’d one person put their name forward – that was Daniel McCrossan. He got unanimous support from the party membership, unanimous support.

“If people wanted to put their name forward, they should have put their name forward.”

The irony is that in plumping for just one candidate, headquarters has made West Tyrone one of the party’s sure fire seats. The local attempt to stymie the whole party’s NI wide efforts probably won’t ingratiate the rebels much at headquarters end (or anywhere else).

Hard to see where the gang of three will go after this.

, , ,

  • Lionel Hutz

    I think when Deehan and Kelly left, it was expected that others would follow. A few boycotted the selection convention knowing that they wouldn’t get Deehan selected and then pushed for a second candidate.

    It’s all ridiculous really. The party has seen it’s vote grow in the Westminster and Local Elections from the last assembly elections, insofar as it’s possible to draw comparisons. But with a new candidate either way and coming from not even getting a quota in the last assembly election’s it’s so clear cut that they should run one candidate.

    It’s a shame. They could have got McCrossan elected first or even topped the poll. Now they’ll be lucky to scrape home. And these three rebels will disappear

  • Lionel Hutz

    By the way I don’t think the timing is all that important. Last week’s defection didn’t just coincide with the campaign launch. It coincided with McCrossan lodging his papers. I think the latter was the target. And I’m not sure this one is designed to hit the manifesto launch. More likely she just took the weekend

  • fralycis

    Clearly personal feuds still taking priority over maximising the number of potential SDLP returns. The questions to ask for the three defects is whether they would simply prefer the 4th SF candidate (or even 2nd DUP candidate!) to benefit with the final seat, over their individual quarrels in one out of 18 consituencies?
    Not many (apart from us keen politics nerds) will remember the run up to the election once we’re properly into the business of the next Assembly…

  • Lionel Hutz

    It seems so. But the party really has to take a firm line on this kind of thing. That might cause a bit of short term pain. But you can’t let the personal wants of individual counsellors run the party. Difficult to know how they are supposed to react other than how they have done.

  • Croiteir

    Let them go let them go they won’t be heard from anymore

  • the keep

    Is there any truth that the UUP have lost their Assembly candidate in North Down?

  • Glenn

    To lose one member may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness, but to lose three is delinquency, by it’s young leader.

  • mjh

    Yes, according to Newsletter local councillor Daniel Allen who had been selected as one of the three candidates appears to have been dropped by the party and has now resigned. Weirdly the UUP are not taking the opportunity to reconsider running three candidates, but appear to be putting in a substitute.

  • mickfealty


  • murdockp

    Party take a firm line… hardly look at the shannigans going on in south down a Totland embarrassment and such a poor candidate who used daddy’s leverage and name to get selected.

  • murdockp

    When all is getting too much SDLP supporters they just need to ask them selves ‘what would John Paul the second do’ .(because pope Francis is too much of a moderniser).

    SDLP when is the last time a candidate ever got close to performing ‘labour’ in the working man or woman sense of the word?

    Never and from the looks of it they never will the the professional middle classes have well and truly hijacked the party to further thier own interests.

  • the keep

    Just insane are they still running three in East Antrim?

  • the keep

    Allan Chambers that committed Independent running for the UUP wonder how that will end?

  • Msiegnaro

    Was it not a case that Allen wasn’t chosen internally and a policy advisor replaced him?

  • Nevin

    “Speaking to the Tyrone Herald, Joanne Donnelly, said her decision to quit the SDLP ‘was the right and principled thing to do.’

    “By doing this, I am taking a principled stand in support of colleagues who have been subjected to systemic wrongdoing over the past number of years,” she said.” .. source

  • Brendan Heading

    “nothing to see here, move along” – don’t think that’s going to work

  • Brendan Heading

    screwing up their vote by running too many candidates is a long running UUP hallmark.

  • Brendan Heading

    That sounds about right.

    McCrossan’s crime was to dare to actually sing for his supper rather than take the local association for granted.

  • the keep

    A constant in an ever changing world!

  • dodrade99

    There has been bad blood in the SDLP in West Tyrone for some time, I would not be as confident of McCrossan’s chances as some here seem to be. Dr Deehan topped the poll in 2014 and is pretty popular in Omagh. With Patsy Kelly acting as spoiler in the Strabane end of the constituency I would not be surprised to see her take the seat.

  • chrisjones2

    The stoops remind me of Labour under Corbyn ………. Desperate to settle internal scores and buggier any chance of power

  • chrisjones2

    Yeah …it’s always principled

  • Granni Trixie

    In general I don’t respect people for this kind of disloyalty and certainly would tend not to give them in their new independent status a preference vote. It happens in most parties at some time or another, often dressed up as a “Principled” act but even more often is connected to not being selected.

    Something anyone thinking of jumping ship ought to have in the forefront of of their mind:they have one chance and one chance only to make their point and then life goes on for everyone else and they tend to be left to pick up their pieces of their lives.

  • Granni Trixie

    I omitted to add an aspect of the pattern I refer to which is that the way a party can foreshadow dissatisfaction of this kind ( though not eliminate it altogether) is to establish a fair selection system. In SB for instance I remember being really surprised that Claire Hannah, a local Councillor, was overlooked for AMCDs choice, a man who had no connection to the area.

    The 3 Sdlp defectors do seem to be acting in a predictable pattern of self interest but could there Be lessons to be learnt?

  • banana man

    Cant see a 4th Sinn Féin since they had a defection of their own in Omagh

  • banana man

    I hooe they have done this in East Derry (my constituency), they ran 2 last time and lost out to their own former MLA

  • dog walker

    It’s going to be interesting to see if there are any implications in 12.5% of Fermanagh and Omagh’s councillors being independents,coincidentally the same percentage as DUP and all but one of the independents are female.

  • Mike Peoples

    The media and some contributers fail to see that this has everything to do with Mr Eastwood, not just an “inherited problem”.
    Before Mr Eastwood became leader, he sought support in Tyrone, and got it off a promise he has now broken. He pledged his support for 2 for Tyrone, and has let us down.
    This coupled with an unconstitutional vote of Mr McCrossan, also supported by Mr Eastwood, has left a repulsive taste in many SDLP members mouths in Tyrone.
    I can tell you, categorically, there will be a further resignation in the coming days in Tyrone. A resignation that will rock the party to the core. Time for Mr Eastwood to reap what he has sown in Tyrone.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Daniel McCrossan was selected before Eastwood became leader….

  • Lionel Hutz

    I didn’t say that. I’m just making the point that I don’t think the timing was to disrupt the SDLP wider campaign launches. It seems to be more directed at the candidate

  • Mike Peoples

    He supported the cronyism..

  • dodrade99

    Is there anyone left in Tyrone to resign?

  • Lionel Hutz

    I don’t even know what you mean. These words being used are supposed to meat something. It’s about time someone actually articulated it. So please do…

  • Ian James Parsley


    Daniel Allen had been selected but then stood down.

    The three candidates are Chambers, Eisenstadt and McClean.

  • Ian James Parsley

    I’m not really sure what the story is here.

    I’m surprised no one has noticed this happened to the SDLP before in the same constituency last time – McGowan and McMenamin fell out with the party and tried exactly what Deehan and Kelly are trying now. They failed, of course, and the SDLP candidate was duly elected.

    This is as distinct from the previous time when the SDLP ran three, attained over a quota between them, but contrived to have none elected.

    I am hugely disappointed by many of the socially regressive positions the SDLP has adopted (and its manifesto is just a ridiculous giveaway-fest), but Mr McCrossan looks like a fine candidate to me and I’m sure he’ll make a fine MLA.

  • Gopher

    Depends how bitter the break is and if that spills over to the electorate and off course SF transfer discipline, SF leaked around 750 transfers to the SDLP last time round. The SDLP also got around 1100 transfers from the Alliance and Two independents. The second consideration is even without rebel SDLP members standing at the general election Alliance, Green and the minor parties polled 2300 or 1/3 of a quota and that is a loose cannon to be flying around if they can repeat it when you only polled .6 of a quota at the last assembly election and SF polled 3.5. Those are very tight margins.

  • Acrobat_747

    Why was it unconstitutional? According to Eastwood, Dan was elected legitimately.

  • Sam Maguire

    Hardly comparable – Paddy McGowan left the SDLP in the late 90s and McMenamin was the sitting MLA that got shafted the time they inexplicably ran the 3 candidates.

  • mac tire

    Labour under Corbyn? I’d bet the SDLP would be happy enough with that comparison.
    And fair play, Chris – at least you weren’t nasty about them. Now if you had have compared them to Dodgy Dave…

  • Graham Parsons

    Is the SDLP membership going through the roof?

  • SDLP supporter

    I am an SDLP member for well over four decades. I am on nodding terms with Jo Deehan, who seems to me to be a pleasant, able woman and articulate councilor. I know neither Daniel McCrossan nor Patsy Kelly.
    Like most people, I can read election results and what they tell me is that in the 2015 Westminster election Daniel McCrossan increased the SDLP’s share of the vote by 2.7%, one of the very few constituencies where the SDLP vote share increased. Admittedly, SF won by a mile and probably weren’t trying very hard. What that tells me is that DMcC is bringing a bit of professionalism to SDLP organising, campaigning and election-fighting compared to past amateurish and muddle-through, disorganised efforts.
    SDLP candidates are selected on the one member, one vote principle. The two councillors knew this election was coming up for years past. Why didn’t the two councillors get the finger out and recruit some members?
    The bigger story in West Tyrone, as in many other constituencies, the unionist turnout since 1998 is remaining steady and the turnout of SDLP voters and, to a lesser extent, Sinn Fein voters is falling significantly. Maybe DMcC is guilty of trying to reverse that trend?

  • Brendan Heading

    So which would you prefer Mike ? Running two candidates and losing (irrespective of what promises were made) or running one candidate and winning ?

    It’s to the SDLP’s credit that they’re confronting and facing down this ridiculous entitlement culture.

  • Brendan Heading

    It’s likely that they ran three candidates in the first place to appease the whingers in the association whose day in the spotlight was more important than winning the seat.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The biggest story should be West Tyrone, and unless these three independents put away their axe to grind on partisan matters that hardly are among the highest priorities of the electorate there then these defectors have lost track of their constituents and perhaps their egos at the same time. The most likely politician to be able to pull a Keiran Deeney here is the Sinn Féin defector.

    Daniel McCrossan is a good positive politician in my view, it may have been possible to squeeze another candidate on the ticket, and many in the party believe it should have been done anyway even if they did lose the seat as a matter of principle or indeed reputation.

    The reality may be that if the SDLP did focus more on the constituents and less on themselves they would have more women in the party, more women in representation and more freedom to put up two candidates.

  • SDLP supporter

    Kevin, I think the margins are too tight for a second SDLP candidate. SDLP has just over a quota and, as Mick Fealty observed a few weeks back, a party has no business running a second candidate with less than 1.4 quotas. West Tyrone comprises the old Omagh and Strabane council districts and the vast bulk of the SDLP support comes from Omagh. Jo Deehan may have (mis)-calculated that she would be added to the ticket anyway and perhaps didn’t bother to recruit members. But Daniel McCrossan appears to have put in the hard yards, recruited the members and earned his stripes running for the Westminster seat (and increasing the vote slightly).

  • Kevin Breslin

    There is some argument that a second candidate can be a sweeper to cover more territory and help ensure the primary one gets in.