Exclusive: SDLP’s Karen McKevitt will not contest next Assembly election

Whatever is going on in the undergrowth of wider party Slugger hears an interesting whisper from South Down, where we understand that sitting SDLP MLA Karen McKevitt has made it known she will not be seeking re-election in the next Assembly election.

It’s thought that the daughter of former SDLP MLA PJ Bradley, Sinead, will stand in her stead.

It’s also considered likely that Downpatrick based (and former shortlisted Slugger Awardee) Colin McGrath will stand in the north of the constituency alongside Bradley and Kilkeel based Sean Rogers, who replaced Margaret Ritchie when she left for Westminster.

Without some heavy momentum it is hard to believe there’s three seats here for the SDLP. Bradley will benefit from having the south of the constituency to herself, and what remains of her father PJ’s local machine.

McGrath has the north end (Downpatrick/Dromore) to himself, but as a non incumbent will have to scrum hard to get ahead of one of the other two. The competition (and the possibility of generational renewal) ought to sharpen the party’s overall performance here.

UPDATE: My interview on Q Radio in Newry with Kevin McAllister this morning: