There has been an interesting changing of the guard within the SDLP over the last year across all levels of the party.
We all know that the leadership team was given a dramatic shake up in November when Colum Eastwood ousted Alasdair McDonnell as party leader and Fearghal McKinney took the deputy post from Dolores Kelly.
But another shift has been happening that is noteworthy and that is the shake-up in the party’s assembly group.
Over the past year we have seen younger MLAs co-opted into the Assembly group with Claire Hanna (35), Daniel McCrossan (27), Gerard Diver (51) who are all significantly younger than the MLAs they are replacing.
These changes have brought the average age of an SDLP MLA from 53 to just under 50 years old.
On top of this we have the departure of other party stalwarts like Dominic Bradley, John Dallat and Alban Maginness.
Bradley will either be replaced by current MLA, Karen McKevitt or Justin McNulty, Maginness is likely to be replaced by Nichola Mallon and there are number of names in for Dallat’s seat.
Should the party hold all of their current seats that would mean that roughly half (7 when you include McKinney) of the SDLP’s group would be freshly elected at the next assembly election.
My question for you lot is, will this punt work out? I know youth is no guarantee of political success, but can this reshuffle and attempt at renewal yield some success for the party on May 5th?
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs