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.

  • chrisjones2

    Cats in an increasingly threadbare sack

    …and with no clear leadership or sense of direction …………

  • Granni Trixie

    If a party claims to have a system of democratic structures then surely the price you have to be prepared to pay is that occasionally the candidate(s) chosen by local members are not the best strategically?

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I’m confused as to why all these people who supported a different candidate stayed away from the selection convention where they might have been able to influence the outcome.

  • chrisjones2

    Politics dear boy …politics

    Its West of The Bann and such actions might be thrown up as evidence of irresponsibility and lack of commitment should for example his grandchild ever seek nomination – say in 2035

  • mjh

    The way I read it is that they had no one else to vote for – and that is what upset these members.

    Presumably the leadership had ensured that there would only be one name in front of the convention by refusing to admit any other interested potential candidate to the party’s list of approved Assembly candidates. So some members feel manipulated/taken for granted/ disenfranchised/patronised.

    But like I say I’m only deducing that from the story. Maybe someone with actual knowledge could tell us.

  • mickfealty

    I’m with Mr Duck!

  • mjh

    However that is not what happened here – according to the Irish News. The party centrally pragmatically decided BOTH how many candidates to run AND who the candidate should be. Then it presented the candidate to the local members for them to rubber stamp the decision.

    Of course that is not necessarily undemocratic if that is how the majority of the party’s members want things to be done.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Sorry, but if there’s a selection convention you’d think there would be a right to fight for the one seat available. It’s ridiculous to think the actual party leadership can be subject to a vote, the right to be appointed as Co-opted MLA can be subject to a vote and the right to contest one MLA seat is not.

    By failing to vote for the rival candidates who might have cost Daniel McCrossan his seat, instead demanding a second runner, they forfeited the right to determine who the candidate should be.

  • mjh

    Kevin
    I’m no expert on the rules of the SDLP. But most parties maintain a list of approved candidates. You cannot stand in a selection convention unless your name is on the list. To get on the list you have to apply in advance to the the party HQ and go through an approval procedure.

    The Irish News story says that two of the parties councillors were interested in standing.

    If they failed to take the steps specified in the party’s rules to be permitted to stand at the convention then I agree with you – they have nothing to complain about.

    However, if they tried to put their names forward and were blocked by the party leadership they may believe that the selection was effectively rigged. The fact that they have been supported by two other councillors, at least one of the local party officers and a good number of the members suggests that this has been handled poorly.

    The West Tyrone party can ill-afford to have the candidate who achieved their best Westminster result in 10 years at loggerheads with the local councillors who achieved their best council results in 9 years. Not in a constituency where at the last Assembly Election they scored just over half a quota (0.6) and where a further 1.2% swing to SF would cost them the seat.