Claire Hanna joins Fearghal McKinney on Stormont benches on Monday (interview)

Claire Hanna after South Belfast Assembly selectionClaire Hanna and Fearghal McKinney were tonight selected as the SDLP’s two South Belfast candidates for the Belfast South constituency at May 2016’s NI Assembly election.

Claire will also take over from Alasdair McDonnell up on the hill when she is co-opted into his seat on Monday morning.

In the end, the selection of the two candidates was uncontested [Ed – so no opportunity for UUP mathematical gaffes?!] and party members in the Wellington Park Hotel room described the atmosphere as cordial and good-natured, and there was an emphasis on teamwork.

South Belfast SDLP selection meeting June 2015Interviewed immediately after her coronation selection, Claire talked about the issues she has championed as a councillor for Balmoral on Belfast City Council and her hopes for the Assembly. Asked about the SDLP leadership, she neatly pivoted her answer and pointed to the leadership deficit in the two main parties which she characterised as being “like co-dependents in a bad marriage”.

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  • aquifer

    Claire looks to have taken a chunk out of the average age of the SDLP.

  • Thomas Girvan

    It is good to see a fresh face and hopefully some new ideas coming into the local political scene.
    I have been impressed by Claire on her TV and radio appearances and would have high hopes for her.
    The problem is, that due to the inane incumbents in Stormont, she may not have too long a political career.
    No wonder we re stuck in an impasse when the main parties are led by people who should have been put out to grass long ago.

  • Granni Trixie

    Talking of leadership, can Claire’s personal qualities make up for leadership inadequacies in sdlp or its follow-the-SF-lead tendencies? Will she bring sdlp over the line re signing up to economic deal? Or have ideas for solving our economic Impass?

    I honestly hope so.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well the SDLP is more than just the MLAs and MPs.

  • Croiteir

    This is not some new departure for the SDLP – this is just a continuation of the same old. Another family passing on the crown to the new generation.

  • barnshee

    An MLA and a city councillor She might have to take time out from her studies at QUB

  • Chris Jones

    and her day job

    Hang on, as an MLA she can probably do all 3

  • Chris Jones

    a fresh face????

  • Nordie Northsider

    I realise that competent representatives are a must for any political party but it strikes me that the SDLP sometimes indulge themselves in a weird crossbreed of personality cult and cargo culture when talking up the potential impact of individuals. Remember when old Hume had to stand aside for young Durkan? When Margaret Ritchie was going to turn it all round for them?

  • Kevin Breslin

    She can’t be a councilor under Double Jobbing. She can probably stay at QUB.