SDLP stalwart deselected…

FORMER Assembly Minister Carmel Hanna of the SDLP has been deselected by her party, and will not be standing in the forthcoming Council elections. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re a moderate in a party that believes it has to be seen as more extreme…

  • Warm Storage

    Perhaps Alliance could woo her, Gonzo.

  • willowfield


    I would have thought she’d be quite suited to South Belfast.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    “I suppose that’s what happens when you’re a moderate in a party that believes it has to be seen as more extreme…”

    Are you suggesting that the Balmoral branch of the SDLP is somehow extreme? It was that branch that deselected her. Names please.

  • peteb

    Not that I’m saying that our Alliance Party and Sinn Féin posters would be trying to make political capital out of this.. and it would be useful to see what the SDLP have to say.. but there is already a marked difference between the tone of this thread and that of Bairbre de Brún’s ‘resignation’ as a MLA.

    Perhaps worth pointing out that, just as de Brun remains a SF MEP, Carmel Hanna is still a SDLP MLA.

  • willowfield

    In my haste, I missed the fact that she’s merely been deselected for Council.

    Fair enough. I withdraw my expression of surprise.

  • John McIlveen

    To be honest, anybody that strives for Ireland’s second city to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in a fun and enjoyable way – as celebrated all over the world – will remember Carmel’s decision at last year’s crucial council vote on the matter and not lose one second’s sleep over her de-selection. Hopefully this time around the SDLP’s council rep for Sth Belfast – if elected, of course – will stand with their own party and the fun-loving people of the city and endorse a council-backed St Patrick’s Day event in the future.

  • willowfield


  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Gonzo has a belief that this deselection has something to do with the SDLP wanting to be seen as more extreme.
    For this belief to have credence then the Balmoral branch of the SDLP must be viewed as extremist because it was they who deselected her. Is it too much to ask for evidence of this extremism?

  • willowfield

    Maybe they just think it’s better not to have “dual mandates”?

  • willowfield

    Not sure if Carmel Hanna should be described as a “stalwart”. She’s been in the Assembly for 6 years, and only on Belfast City Council for 7.

  • Fraggle

    maybe they have so few elected representatives now that they need to spread the positions around a bit more.

  • Insider

    I see Dr McDonnell’s sticky mitts all over this one – he has hated Carmel Hanna since she emerged in 97 and because she got more votes than him in Assembly elections in November and he knows that it will be a five seater next time round and he’ll be toast if he doesn’t get rid of Hanna. Hanna’s own Balmoral Branch overwhelmingly supports her. The problem is that McDonnell created another branch (Stranmillis)out of his supporters who are inactive members but who live in Balmoral and are only seen at selection conventions.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Insider, my one correction would be that Carmel Hanna “emerged” as early as 1995 when she stood in the May by-election and got 22% in an area where the SDLP had only elected its first representative (Dorita Field) in 1989.

  • MollyM

    As someone who lives in South Belfast I am really surprised at Councillor Hanna’s deselection. She is the only politican except for the DUP’s Eric Smith that I ever hear from outside election time.

    I’m not sure how this works but I presume that the SDLP has to ratify the results of the selection convention. I would be very surprised if they let one of their top vote getters in South Belfast not run. If the party is going to be under pressure in May, as recent election results would suggest surely you stick to your tried and tested?

  • Pat Mc Larnon


    Eric Smyth was a DUP councillor for the Court Ward in North/West Belfast. What was he doing over your way?

  • MollyM

    I’m not sure. Smith’s photo was on the front of a multipage thing that I didn’t read, due to lack of interest in the DUP, prehaps it was a generic party thing with all reps on it?

  • IJP

    On the contrary, those who wish to see St Patrick’s Day celebrated in Ireland’s second city the same as it is anywhere else in the world will view the deselection of the one Nationalist councillor determined to secure just that with a mixture of regret and disbelief.

    Every time people dislike someone’s policies they simply dismiss them as ‘moderate’. I prefer to use the word ‘responsible’. Mrs Hanna’s absence from the SDLP ticket will only lead to more irresponsibility in that party and on that council.

    A shame.

  • irishman

    What little hope the SDLP had of retaining their two seats here are now gone. With neither of the sitting councillors standing again (Catherine Molloy was also not on the newly selected ticket) the party will be running two nobody’s against Sinn Fein and an increasingly prominent Alliance Mayor.

    This area has been trouble for the SDLP for years, due to Alisdair’s all-powering ambitions within the party. He managed to get Catherine Molloy de-selected in 2001, only for the party leadership to boot out his candidate and re-select her.

    Apparently, as Deputy now, he’s more able to get away with such shameless maneouvring. De-selecting Hannah will ensure Sinn Fein’s Stiofan Long becomes a shoo-in (he virtually was anyway) but will put the SDLP in a tough battle with Alliance to retain their 2nd seat when demographics would have suggested Alliance were the likely losers to SF before now.

  • ulsterman

    Bet you she does stand.

    God Save The Queen.

  • The Renegade

    Here’s the facts: the internal campaign literature of Hanna and Kelly said ‘Vote Kelly and Hanna 1 and 2’- hence people thought they should only give Carmel their 2nd preference. On top of this, people likely thought Carmel was a safe bet, so gave Bernie their vote. Thirdly, it is no surprise that Kennedy was selected- she was selected the last time, but this was overruled. So basically, Kennedy was selected as she was last time, and Hanna’s running mate took her votes through election mismanagement. No big revolution- just democratic politics. Not ever likely to happen in SF- they just parachute candidates in, regardless of local sentiment.

  • Fairybadmother

    Insider: The Stranmillis branch of the SDLP has been going a long time, but then so has Alistair MacDonnell. The SDLP wrote its own suicide note when they chose him as their deputy leader …

    It looks like Carmel Hanna just wasn’t organised enough in her own branch to get enough votes to get selected. The Balmoral branch of the SDLP is about the palest green of all of the SDLP branches so it can hardly be that it was too radical.

    To get selected as a candidate you have to have votes in the branch, ie registered members. I’ll bet whoever did get selected had lots of supporters who were members. There’s another interesting SDLP selection convention coming up at the end of this month – for the Westminster seat in Foyle. Wonder who’s organising for that one, eh?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Whatever about when she was elected to the council, Hanna is undoubtedly an SDLP stalwart. She was involved in the civil rights movement and in the thick of things when the party was in the process of being founded. She was typing manifestoes, running off posters, helping formulate polcies, organising meetings, rallies and branches – basically doing a huge amount of donkey work behind the scenes and helping the thing get off the ground. The stalwart’s stalwart, no question.

    But I have to smile at the suggestion that the SDLP have somehow metamorphosed into a hardline party. Could someone enlighten me? I must have missed that meeting.

  • J Kelly

    “There’s another interesting SDLP selection convention coming up at the end of this month – for the Westminster seat in Foyle. Wonder who’s organising for that one, eh?”

    It looks like Mark Durkan may have a challenger. Pat Ramsey has long been a opponent of Durkan and in recent times has been making the soundings of an MP. He recently led an SDLP delegation to meet a minister on infrastructure for Derry Durkan not included. Dictating policy around rememberance but claiming to be misquoted, moving possible council candidates around the city like pawns. On the other hand Ramsey may bide his time and hope that Durkan loses Westminster then he becomes king in Derry.

    Either way the SDLP are split down the middle and it all came about because of the debacle around the selection of candidates for the Assembly elections and if not handled properly South Belfast could be the same.

  • Insider

    Carmel Hanna is probably fairly relaxed about deselection. The SDLP has gotten rid of one of it’s biggest vote getters (? second highest SDLP vote in last council elections). Dr McDonnell is exposed as the prat he is. Also, rumours of forthcoming case over membership mean certain people could be in deep doh-doh. Don’t accept the point about membership disorganisation – South Belfast SDLP has the highest membership/vote ratios in NI. There are whole constituencies where SDLP membership in double figures. It’s too easy in the SDLP (and some other parties) to sign up passive stay at home members, throw in a few quid for membership and then trundle them out at selection time every few years. I suspect that’s what happened in this case. The final judge will be the electorate; it’s easy to get selected but voters will make their own choices. That’s democracy.

  • Will

    Without getting involved in internal SDLP politics – it would be a very stupid move if Pat Ramsey does want to be MP, to bide his time and wait for Durkan to lose.

    Should Durkan run and lose the seat to the provos then it would take a massive reversal of recent trends to win that seat back.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Having listened to both Durkan and Ramsey only a fool would plump for Ramsey at Durkans’ expense. While a bit boring and tending to think his manufactured one liners have us all in fits of laughter at least Durkan is coherent. Ramsey sounds as if he has overdosed on Derrys’ latest exotic product, CS spray.

  • D’Oracle

    Maybe Carmel is not a very good at politics?

    That might just have some bearing on this otherwise shocking turn of events.