The SDLP launched their campaign in Lurgan today with party leader Colum Eastwood setting out the party’s stall for the upcoming election.
Eastwood did not mention other particular constituencies, but did spend time speaking about Upper Bann, which until last May was held by Dolores Kelly until Catherine Seeley from Sinn Fein won the seat.
Here is what he had to say;
Before addressing the continuing campaign that lies before us in the next few weeks, I would like say something about this particular constituency.
There may have been a lot packed in during the last 9 months but there has also been something missing.
Even as the noise and heat of the Assembly reverberated beyond its own walls over the last number of months, it has been more and more noticeable that there has been something missing.
There has been a distinctive and definite voice absent.
It is a voice that stands up for every community and all of the people in Lurgan, Craigavon and Portadown.
It is a voice that never shies away from a good battle – in fact anyone and everyone knows that she is anything but shy.
But there have been many the better for it.
There have been many the better for the fact that she is always willing to fight the good fight.
It’s only been 9 months but we have missed that voice.
Upper Bann has missed that voice.
It’s time to bring it back.
On March 2nd it’s time to bring Dolores Kelly back to the Assembly.
It was a tight contest between Kelly and John O’Dowd last May, with a 5 seater, the consensus appears to be that one of the two UUP MLAs here is under threat, but you can play about with the numbers for yourself. Obviously with Catherine Seeley not standing again, the SDLP feel there is an opportunity here for the party.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs