West Tyrone SDLP selection convention challenged

Story by John Manley in todays Irish News about the recent SDLP West Tyrone Selection convention which saw 27 year old Daniel McCrossan nominated to replace sitting MLA, Joe Byrne.

Manley reports;

The SDLP leadership is facing dissent in West Tyrone with dozens of party activists refusing to recognise the candidate chosen to contest the next Stormont election.

Four of the party’s five councillors in the constituency are among those who boycotted Thursday night’s selection convention where Daniel McCrossan was picked to run in the forthcoming poll.

The nub of the problem seems to be here;

The decision to overlook councillors from Omagh and Strabane while running only a single candidate in the predominantly nationalist constituency is the latest in a series of rows to beset the SDLP in West Tyrone.

Dozens of activists stayed away from Thursday night’s selection convention and penned an angry letter to the SDLP’s chairman and general secretary outlining the reasons for their boycott.

Among those who stayed away were councillors Jo Deehan and Patsy Kelly, both of whose names had been put forward as prospective candidates.

The boycott is supported by fellow SDLP councillors Joanne Donnelly and Rosemarie Shields, as well as the chairman and a number of members of the party’s constituency council.

Manley reports a letter with 40 signatories calling for candidates who reflect the constituency’s geographical balance and an investigation into issues raised by those who did not attend.

Daniel McCrossan is backed by party leader, Alasdair McDonnell and ran for the party at the 2015 general election. He was unanimously backed at the convention during the week.

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs