McGrady to run again in South Down…

Mark Devenport picks up a snippet from the Mourne Observer, to the effect that the SDLP’s incumbent, Eddie McGrady (72) is going to run in the next Westminster election. Mark suggests that this will hardly upset his heir apparent, Margaret Ritchie, since it gives her another term to settle in and compete for public space with her capable Sinn Fein rival, Minister of Education Catriona Ruane.


  • Frank Sinistra

    It’s not like anyone will notice.

    He is currently the 3rd worst member for attending (excluding the dead and the shinners). Only Clare Short and Tony Blair attend less.

    13.8%, easy money for Eddie.

  • Who cares

    Westminster is irrelevant

  • Paul O

    So is Eddie.

  • Frank-

    “He is currently the 3rd worst member for attending”

    Better than Sinn Féin’s 0%.

    Who cares-

    “Westminster is irrelevant”

    To a large extent, yes, now that we have devolved government. However, it provides a useful tool on occasion to bring issues directly before the British Government in a public forum. It is also useful insofar as many NI matters are still within the remit of that parliament.

    Paul O-

    “So is Eddie.”

    21,557 South Down residents would beg to differ. But why bother listening to them- to hell with democracy, eh?

  • BonarLaw


    “Westminster is irrelevant”

    Policing & Justice?
    Taxation & Fiscal Policy?
    The Barnet Formula?
    Defence & National Security?
    Electoral Law?

    Sooo irrelevant.

  • Frank Sinistra

    I didn’t say anything about relevance. I pointed out Eddie is a poor attender only barely ahead of the dead and abstentionists. His last two terms have finished on less than 5% attendance.

    As I said, easy money if you can get it. If he’s running again it certainly won’t be on his record.

  • Who Cares

    So then BonarLaw, tell me which issue in your list would McGrady or any other NI politician have the power to influence? Those matters are all decided by the government of the day under a Presidential PM, not by the likes of McGrady no matter what unionists have to say about democracy in the ‘Mother of Parliaments’.

  • Who cares-

    “Those matters are all decided by the government of the day under a Presidential PM, not by the likes of McGrady no matter what unionists have to say about democracy in the ‘Mother of Parliaments’.”

    So should parties who aren’t in government just not turn up to their respective parliaments? Will SF not bother turning up to the Dáil given that their paltry showing of four TDs may not even get speaking rights? Should Dawn Purvis not bother attending Stormont?

  • As a voter I would be pretty pissed off if my MP spent all their time in Westminster. However I would expect them to attend when it mattered.

  • Gum

    Come on El Mat, its ok to admit that McGrady’s attendence is very poor and something he should address. And the point has been made on this forum to you before that the SF non-attendence is made clear to the electorate before the election and is on (whatever you may think of them) principled grounds.

    I’m not attacking you here – just suggesting that the malaise in the SDLP is due to the image of people resting on laurels. And I am afraid that Eddie is one of the first to spring to mind.

  • CTN

    Its more bad news for Grizzler as SF just shaded it in South Down at the assembly elections and looked to be taking the Westminister seat with Catriona Ruane.

    McGrady didn’t run then & is considered unbeatable in the generals, commanding a whopping majority over the nearest SF candidate- this is the last thing they wanted to hear.

    It appears the Stoops are high on the smell of SF blood after their Southern Flop….

  • Bob wilson

    ‘So then BonarLaw, tell me which issue in your list would McGrady or any other NI politician have the power to influence? Those matters are all decided by the government’
    Absolutely right Who Cares you succiently make the agruement in support of the big UK parties organising here. The irish nationalist and ulster parochial (so called unioinst) parties have no influence at Westminster

  • Gum

    So what if Eddie holds on another 5 years (doing nout for his contituents)? Why do you think SF are in with a shout of taking it? Because of Eddie’s poor performance. Seriously guys!!! The SDLP HAVE to realise and very soon that it is time for new faces. The longer Eddie hangs around the stronger the SF position becomes.

  • On attendence, Bob makes a good point particular for the Unionist side of the Westminster House. Most Ulster MPs, with the noteable exception of Sylvia Hermon tend to show for the NI debates and take little or nothing to do with issues relating to GB. This, one would presume, is less of a problem for nationalist like McGrady, who as Frank has pointed out is likely to be fighting an abstentionist candidate.

    You can check out what he has actually been doing at

  • Gum-

    “So what if Eddie holds on another 5 years (doing nout for his contituents)?”

    Really? So why the massive personal vote in contrast to the current tide against the SDLP?

    As for the SDLP at Westminster, they’ve been doing some very good work over there and targetting their efforts efficiently rather than wasting time that is better spent on the ground at home- one example is their success in getting the OTR rubbish dropped 😉

  • Dec

    Whatever anyone here thinks of Eddie McGrady, he is extremely popular in his constituency and is the SDLP’s only chance of holding on to this seat(hence todays announcement).

  • Mick-

    I would assume unionist voters would prefer their MPs to be at home rather than debating ‘GB issues’ of no relevance to people here (regardless of whether they think this place is as British as Finchley). Surely their most effective modus operandi is precisely to use Westminster to get results on NI issues and the few UK-wide issues that affect people here instead of wasting their time spouting hot air on council tax issues in deepest Shropshire.

  • StarHound

    Can someone tell me if anyone is leading the SDLP anymore or if anyone has any kind of vision for it’s future?

    Allowing Mc Grady to stand again will do nothing to halt it’s relentless slide into history.

  • Well El Mat, I guess that’s a matter for unionists themselves to speak to, but I would have thought the MLAs would give them some constituency cover. STV makes constituency work much more important to them than MPs, who if they are well liked can be damned near impossible to shift.

    On a South Down level: any one who doubts Dec’s line on this, doesn’t know the constituency. McGrady’s popularity (and Ruane’s high media profile) is, to some degree, Ritchie’s weakness. To that extent, I don’t think Devenport is in the least mistaken in his analysis.

  • elvis parker

    Poor, poor El Mat he just doesnt understand that Stormont is merely devolved from Westminster.
    Westminster as Bonar Law points out decides on a range of issues – most notably taxation but also (effectively) on social security benfeits. Not to mention the War, etc. These are UK issues not Gb issues.

    As for ‘the few UK-wide issues that affect people here’ – think you’ve been reading to much nationalist propaganda mate!

  • lib2016

    Since the days of Parnell and the Irish Party Westminster has had it’s rules drawn up in such a way as to exclude small parties from power. Unionists were able to fool themselves because they were ‘useful idiots’ for the Conservative Party. Now that they have become too hot to handle they will find themselves as ruthlessly ignored as Irish nationalists have always been.

    Just another little step on the way towards realising that the only sensible way forward is towards a reunited Ireland with a PR system in which the post-unionist community would be able to exercise real influence.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    It seems about time that someone trotted out the old classic:

    The only difference between the nationalist parties is that Sinn Fein abstain from Westminster in principle, the SDLP abstain in practice…

  • interested

    Might be a smart move – cant absolutely make up my mind.

    The more exposure Ruane gets the more I feel she will prove to be distinctly underwhelming. Fine for a few whispered platitudes, but not much cop when she’s put under real pressure IMO.

    Not saying that Ritchie is any big shakes either, but shades it over her opponent, and doesnt have the same problems in her brief. McGrady mops up significant swathes of unionist votes and should still be a good shout to retain the seat, provided there isn’t a swing against him for being seen to hold on too long.

    The SDLP should hold Foyle and S. Down on that basis and possibly still take S. Belfast as I think it will be time after next before unionism retakes that one. Being seen to have halted any slide and possibly look towards growing again in Assembly terms if/when the gloss comes off SF should be no bad thing at all from their point of view.

  • Elvis-

    “Poor, poor El Mat he just doesnt understand that Stormont is merely devolved from Westminster…These are UK issues not Gb issues.”

    Erm, I was responding directly to Mick’s comment about “issues relating to GB”. Read the thread. Apart from that, have you never heard of the Midlothian Question? Presumably not. Pop along to Wikipedia, there’s a good lad.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    El Mat

    I take it you mean West Lothian?

    Maybe you should join Elvis over at Wikipedia….?

  • interested

    Someone’s gonna have an eye out with all those handbags flying around in here!!

  • Billy-

    It wouldn’t have been worth my while heading over to Wikipedia as nothing would have come up! Google might have been better 😉

  • J Kelly

    Elmat i have to give you credit you will defend the sdlp no matter what. This is obviously a solo run by Eddie to have one over on Durkan for not getting a ministry at the last assembly. If this was part of the over all SDLP strategy would Margaret Ritchie be a the Minister for UDA Funding.(only jesting)Of course she wouldn’t. Eddie is I believe 72 and 74 at the next election and 79 by the end of term. I am not being ageist but this is over doing it.

  • ‘J Kelly’-

    Kindly point to whereabouts on this thread I am supposed to have leant my support to idea forwarded in the rumours mentioned by Mick.

  • Lorraine

    can i just say, as a former republican activist and one who still votes sinn fein, eddie mc grady’s decision is a clear attempt to take the wind out of the sinn fein sails in county down, further, he couldn’t be going up against a more false, arrogant and conceited ceasefire republican in the whole of the country. go n-eiri an t-adh leat eddie a chara, if i lived in county down i would definitely vote for you.

  • Eddie’s voting record is apalling. Westminster still decides things like whether people in Northern Ireland are subject to extradition without due process to face torture by the CIA in Guantanamo Bay or Diego Garica; it decides whether people in Northern Ireland can be locked up indefinitely without a trial; it decides whether or not young men from Northern Ireland will be sent off to be killed in pointless wars. I’d call all of this ‘important’. He ought to be ashamed of himself.

    South Down will be the hardest nut of all the majority nationalist seats for SF to crack – it has a large Unionist vote much of which has shown willing to vote tactically in the past and it has by far the weakest Republican tradition of any majority Nationalist seat. Three years is a long time in politics and I have no intentions of calling anything three years out, but this will be very, very tough for SF. If they do it, the SDLP might as well roll up the blinds and say goodnight.

    This also makes a bit of an eejit of Mark Durkan – if McGrady is going to run in South Down, what was the logic in appointing Margaret Ritchie to the Stoops’ only ministerial position?

  • Crow

    Eddie is probably the SDLP’s best chance at holding the seat. However, we are likely to have new constituency boundaries in place by the next election which could be significant. The transfer of Ballymaglave, Ballynahinch East, and Kilmore out of South Down and into Strangford, is likely to favour SF.

  • Frank Sinistra

    Before the recent Assembly election where SF brought the gap between them and the SDLP down to 300 odd votes Nicholas Whyte had estimated the boundary changes brought the Westminister seat ‘within reach’ for Sinn Féin.

    I think this is a hard hold for the SDLP on the new boundaries, recent swing and would require massive Unionist tactical voting and no further vote drift from the SDLP to SF.

    A difficult task, the question is should McGrady or Ritchie be the person going for it. If it’s McGrady it does seem as if the local organisation has once again thumbed it’s nose at SDLP HQ and messed up it’s selection of minister in the Assembly.

  • StoopSays

    If it were not for Eddie, who would speak for the sixty-something millionaire accoutants of South Down?

  • Frank Sinistra

    I think it is about time Republicanism and Nationalism reassessed their attitudes to Westminster elections.

    What essentially was a pointless head count now has a alternative genuine and influential democratic election happening elsewhere.

    A principled decision may be to not run and proclaim the primacy of the Assembly. Forgo the wage and allowance and indicate it is a pointless institution in the north.

    Northern reps have had no influence or power regardless of view on the national question and Republicans/Nationalists have seen much of it’s power devolved and want the rest devolved pending transference to a UI.

    So why not make a major and confident political statement of letting two bald Unionists fight over the toothless comb and delaring the only political game we are interested in is the one based in Ireland?

    Too radical for the shinners and stoops? Unwilling to drop a penny to chase a punt?

  • Billy in Aus

    El Mat

    I am not a Sinn Fein voter and don’t agree with their policy of abstaining from Westminster.

    However, at least they are honest about their intentions. McGrady is a joke – says that he will represent the people at Westminster – takes the money but doesn’t turn up. As he’ll be approaching 75 when the next election comes, I somehow doubt that he will improve his dismal attendance record.

    What exactly has he achieved for his constituents during his tenure as an MP?

    I’m not a great fan of Mrs Ritchie but I have no doubt that she would at least put some effort in to representing the people of South Down at Westminster.

    It is clear that Durkan fears the challenge of Catriona Ruane and doesn’t have faith in Mrs Ritchie to see it off. So they’ll just trot out old faithful Eddie (although his attendance will probably be the same as any Sinn Fein MP).

    With courageous “leadership” like this and the brilliant tactics employed in the Assembly elections, the SDLP continue their decline into obscurity.

  • darth rumsfeld

    I bet Eddy Adenoids is just glad that legendary UUP stalwart Lord Ballyedmond is in the Lords and can’t stand against him.

  • have seen much of it’s power devolved

    Except for the bits that cover wars, money, tax, spies, internal security, oversease development, aeroplanes, international agreements and foreign policy.

    But I suppose these ‘aren’t important’?

  • The World’s Gone Mad


    “So what if Eddie holds on another 5 years (doing nout for his contituents)?”

    Doing nout for his constituents? I cannot speak for all constituents but he was a great help to my mother in a matter to do with her Housing Executive flat a few years back. She is one constituent who is not a ‘sixty-something millionaire accoutant’ who votes for him, and she is one voter from the unionist community who does not vote for him simply because of tactics either.

  • CTN

    Obviously the stoops have a better chance of reviving their party after the SF blunder down south and this arguably would be a good tactic for them, but other than the conjecture featured has anyone any other evidence to suggest McGrady is going forward as candidate?

  • kensei

    “Too radical for the shinners and stoops? ”

    Or will just hand more political influence to your opponents, especially with the prospect of a hung Parliament or slim majorities?