McDonnell wins first selection bout…

Despite a very strong challenge from Downpatrick based councillor Colin McGrath, It was former principal of St. Louis Grammar school in Kilkeel, Sean Rogers who won the day by just 14 votes out 239 cast becoming Margaret Ritchie’s replacement.

All other considerations aside, the geographic spread of the party’s MLAs now covers the southern (with sitting MLA, Karen McKevitt) and middle bands, with Margaret Ritchie covering the northern part as MP.

It gives the party an option for McGrath to pose a possible threat next time out. Promising start for McDonnell, who said he would start on candidate selection as a priority in his opening leaders speech.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty