3 SDLP Councillors quit the party

In this mornings Belfast Telegraph, Suzanne Breen reports trouble in the SDLP’s ranks as three of their councillors on Belfast City Council have quit the party.

Cllrs, Pat Convery, Declan Boyle and Kate Mullan were suspended after they abstained on a motion dealing with harassment outside reproductive health facilities.

Breen reports;

The three who abstained told the Belfast Telegraph that they were quitting the party with “profoundly heavy hearts”.

They said they would not resign their seats but would continue to sit on the council as “independents”. They stated that they had “no current plans” to join another party.

Mr Convery, a former SDLP vice-chairman who was first elected to Belfast City Council 16 years ago for the Castle ward, said: “I never thought it would come to this. I’ve been SDLP all my life, my family are SDLP.

“The party I joined was one of inclusiveness and I feel that no longer applies.

“The SDLP needs to go back to its roots of being a broad church where everyone is welcome.”

The councillor said that “moral issues should be matters of personal conscience and party policy should reflect that”.

The SDLP has issued a short statement in response;

“Following a breach of party discipline, Cllr Patrick Convery, Cllr Kate Mullan and Cllr Declan Boyle had the party whip withdrawn.

“The party process has been followed to deal with the matter. The councillors decided not to participate in that process. We thank them for their service.”

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  • Ryan A

    No fan of Big Al by any stretch at all; but since young Turk’s been in charge he’s cost the party 3 MP’s, 2 MLA’s (and nearly another in East L/Derry over a selection row) and 4 Councillors.

  • Refusing to condemn harassment seems to infect a lot of councillors in many old parties in NI.

  • Neonlights

    If they were rebuked because they stood up for purely peaceful protest I could feel sorry for them, but harassment is different. Good riddance.

  • The worm!

    Yes, but one persons “peaceful protest” IS another persons “harassment”.

    I tend to think neither of the three people in question would have any truck whatsoever with people involved with genuine harassment of anyone and this is just a further indication of the SDLP trying to out-liberalise the shinners.

    Is there no one involved with that party who has the wit to see what a complete balls they’re making of things?

  • Nordie Northsider

    I’m not a fan, but I don’t see how Colm Eastwood could have done anything other than insist that SDLP councillors support the anti-intimidation motion. As regards the other losses, I think they might be put down to what I’d call ‘legacy issues’ if the term wasn’t already in use for something else.

  • chrisjones2

    https://sluggerotoole.com/2017/06/16/northern-ireland-life-and-times-survey-suggests-slight-increase-in-support-for-irish-unity-and-cross-community-support-for-abortion-reform/

    70% of SDLP voters are in favour of limited abortion reform. Looks like this lot arent in tune with the voters. They could join the DUP but then DUP voters think the same as SDLP voters on this issue

  • chrisjones2

    It must be hard to condemn it when its been the management style of most of the parties

  • chrisjones2

    Dear LOrd

    Apart from me and one other all the posters on this threat are almost completely new to Disqus.

  • Neil

    You keep repeating this utter nonsense across multiple threads. one person on this thread has a moderately new account. Maybe you just don’t notice people because you’re stuck on transmit all the time, pumping out hundreds of poorly thought out comments and derailing threads. It’s like slugger featuring the ramblings of Chris Jones.

    You seem to be trying to suggest there’s some kind of conspiracy to make you look foolish – a wholly unnecessary enterprise, you manage that just fine on your own.

  • chrisjones2

    No ….look at how many posters on Slugger are ‘new’

  • Gaygael

    If you can’t condemn the harassment of vulnerable women and girls……

  • lizmcneill

    What’s the chances any of the women that are attending the facilities are actually going to get an abortion, given the law here?

  • The worm!

    A Catholic holding traditional Christian beliefs and principles has no one representing them and therefore no one obviously to claim their vote.

    The SDLP do not have to openly promote these views in the way that the DUP do, but they should at least be respectful of someones right to hold them.

    It seems obvious, but apparently not to those running the party.

  • The worm!

    So why are they here then?

    There is plenty of support elsewhere if that’s all that’s required.

  • mac tire

    I have seen all the posters in this thread before. And does it matter how long someone is signed up to Disqus?
    Mick, kindly, provides a discussion board here and that means almost anyone is free to post, providing they stick to the rules.
    A person with one post has the right to their opinion as much as someone with 15,000.

  • Neil

    It’s a conspiracy MT. We devious shinners have to band together with sock puppet accounts to try and take down Einstein here because no one mere mortal would be capable of besting him in debate.

  • Surveyor

    Why do you keep posting then Chris if you’re so upset?

  • Croiteir

    What harassment?

  • Croiteir

    It is good to see politicians taking a stand like this and it is shameful for any party to allow a false narrative to be supported in this manner. Any wonder the SDLP is sliding into oblivion as it stands for nothing and falls for everything.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    that’s called playing the person not the ball, Neil – you can’t do that

  • Nordie Northsider
  • Zorin001

    Why shouldn’t they avail of all available services?

  • chrisjones2

    We know that the Churches claim the right to subjugate women and dictate how they will take care of their bodies but the rest of us dont have to accept that

  • chrisjones2

    Because I have a right and wish to. And I dont need to hide my posts

  • hgreen

    That’s like blaming the guys in the engine room for the titanic hitting the ice berg.

  • hgreen

    Quit coming on here with your facts.

  • hgreen

    I hold the traditional belief that we shouldn’t harass the vulnerable or torture young women.

  • Korhomme

    What stand are they taking? Not voting as ordered? Not voting on the anti-harassment motion? Whatever your opinion, surely harassment isn’t a good thing?

  • Kev Copeland

    The reason they are attending these facilities is their business, and has nothing to do with anyone else. If the service is there for them, why shouldn’t they make use of it? There is no excuse to threaten or harass them.

  • Granni Trixie

    But the case is not about the Councillors attitudes to abortion it’s about condemning or not condemning harassment.

  • Oggins

    Agree MU, but he is going into over drive on the other pages doing the exact same to others.

    Mick needs to put a stop to it all

  • Ryan A

    Indeed, but it does seem a bit careless if not wreckless. Unless shrink to grow is the plan; but given he doesn’t have much shrinkage room before the SDLP drops below Alliance I’d question that approach.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Assembly he broke even.
    3 MLA’s lost (Mullen, Attwood, McPhillips),
    3 MLA’s gained (Dallat, Kelly, Catney).

  • Ryan A

    Not in 2016 he didn’t.
    -McKinney, -Diver.

  • Ryan A

    Indeed, but I do think this could have been handled a bit better. If not on the basis of goodwill, just to save the party some hassle before we hit local elections.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It was estimated they’d lose anything from five to seven as part of the seat reductions, losing two (effectively Foyle 3rd and South Belfast 2nd) was not expected.

  • The worm!

    Good for you!

    Before you subject us all to any more sanctimony, have you any evidence that any of the three councillors mentioned have indulged personally or supported in any way the crimes which you mention?

  • The worm!

    Populist drivel.

    Have you the slightest concept of what genuine Christianity is about, or do you just prefer to trot out the same old nonsensical metaphors.

    A devoted Nolan listener I take it?

  • The worm!

    Plenty of people make the protection of other life their business, many are even lauded for doing so!

  • Croiteir

    That court case that was overturned on appeal within a few minutes as the prosecution case was weak – hardly that one – keep going

  • Croiteir

    The stand was not supporting a false claim – not one client has made a complaint of harassment

  • murdockp

    If sdlp is to rebuild this is welcome.

    Members with these attitudes have frozen the parties appeal.

    Have you noticed that anything difficult in NI is exported to the UK.

    Abortion and hazardous waste. The UK can deal with it.

  • The Irishman

    Chris, you accused me of the same yesterday, despite the fact I’ve been posting for over 2 years now. You also accused me of it last year aswell.
    What point are you trying to make about new posters?

  • The Irishman

    So what if there’s new posters? Maybe the slugger o toole site has been getting publicity which has brought with it new posters.
    To claim they are (along with myself) all working together is just nonsense.
    Do ya want to show me how you arrived at this so I can judge for myself…

  • Korhomme

    The case was indeed overturned on appeal, but this wasn’t “within a few minutes”.

  • Korhomme

    The ‘false claim’ being, I take it, of harassment; and ‘false’ because the original prosecution was overturned.

    But how did the cops know about this unless a complaint, in whatever form, had been made?

  • Zorin001

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/sep/12/anti-abortion-protests-belfast-marie-stopes-clinic-security

    You only need to scroll to the bottom of the article to see more of tbe same

  • Korhomme

    You and I might well think that this was harassment; the appeal court ruled that the evidence wasn’t sufficient for a conviction.

  • Lionel Hutz

    It would be interesting to see what percentage of SDLP councillors elected at the last council elections remain in the party. It seems they have to exercise a lot of demons and get rid off a lot of disloyal members at that level of the party. But there are just so many of them it seems that that process is deeply damaging

  • Zorin001

    Unfortunately that is true.

    I work in the area and have seen with my own eyes some scenes which I felt skirted the edges of harassment plus anecdotal evidence from a friend who had a run in with members of the organisation which colours my feelings towards them.

  • Christopher Mc Camley

    The SDLP had only two things that clearly differentiated them from Sinn Fein – they were pro-life and they took seats at Westminster. There was a solid cohort of Catholic voters who supported the SDLP because they were pro-life and wouldn’t support SF for the same reason. The party is beyond stupid in the way they have dealt with this issue. Firstly they should never have supported the “harassment motion” as it was utterly bogus and based on a false premise. It doesn’t matter what the particular wording was. They could have put down a pro-life amendment. Then to suspend three members over it and ultimately lose them from the party. They really do have a death wish.

  • Christopher Mc Camley

    A pro-life amendment would have been the way to go

  • Sharpie

    The leadership of the party is in such a strange place. It is the home of an increasingly small set of interests who are there mostly because of tradition and loyalty or because they are different from Sinn Fein on some moral matters.

    They started life as a rights based left party and they are a long way from that now while still clinging to some of that heritage.

    They often come across as morally superior – due in part to a quasi intellectualism favoured by school teachers and parish committee people. They are properly stuck now because they are forced to react to events instead of being clear and confident in their policies.

    The clarity that Colm Eastwood needs to bring is not an easy job and whatever direction they choose from here they need to come across with something radical, different, and that means losing people who do not buy into the vision as you go.

    If anything the last two years have proved it is that political fortunes can transform very quickly. The follow / lead dance that is required is played very well by SF who seem to be able to catch the national mood – SDLP with a bit of listening skills, and a bit of humility could still play an important role. On the other hand they could be a pro-church house for disaffected and socially conservative middle class retirees.

  • Zorin001

    The problem therein is that you alienate those members more socially liberal.

    There is fertile ground for a socially conservative Nationalist party no doubt but it would spell the end for the SDLP in its current form. Its a conversation the party probably needs to have even if they don’t want to.

  • Christopher Mc Camley

    There are a lot of pro-church socially conservative Catholics who think the right to life of the unborn is pretty important and worth voting to protect. What on earth is to be gained by the SDLP alienating their voters? They can’t outdo Sinn Fein in lefty, liberal and republican politics. As one former SDLP voter said to me last week, if the SDLP aren’t pro-life and against SSM sure we might as well vote Sinn Fein and beat the unionists.

  • Sharpie

    They would be far better respected if they came out of the closet and stated that this is who they are. At least it would be clarity and in a Jim Allister kind of way offer a clear choice. Who does the pro life anti SSM person vote for. Even I pity them – their natural home is DUP. DUP should start a pro – unification wing – they’d clean a lot of votes.

  • Christopher Mc Camley

    I love the way you try and turn the pro-life majority in Northern Ireland into “Jim Allister”. The SDLP always supported the right to life of the unborn. It’s entirely consistent with their party history and role in supporting human rights. Nobody has to come out of the closet with such a position. It’s normal and mainstream.

    The sad thing is there is a cohort of Catholics who are so anti-DUP that they don’t even think about the actual issues but instead support abortion and SSM lest they be on the same side as the DUP.

  • Christopher Mc Camley

    The SDLP has suffered from a bit of entryism. Everyone in the SDLP knows that a group of LGBT activists have moved in. They’ll basically destroy the party. The social conservatives will stop voting for them and the liberal voters will switch to Sinn Fein and that’ll be that.

  • Sharpie

    Abortion and the reasons why and the reasons why not are complex and nuanced. Our debate on it is not. SDLP if it is a rights based organisation has to respect the internationally accepted reasoning on it, in particular of left leaning “social democratic” movements. The polls all show huge support for abortion being liberalised in Northern Ireland and the South too.

    Your last point is really interesting. I would imagine that the cohort of Catholics supporting DUP because of their stance is much greater than the cohort you refer to. As for who supports who – who cares? If a Catholic wants to vote DUP based on moral stances – good luck to them, and if a liberal protestant wants to support a united Ireland – cool too. If anything that would be the sign we are normalising.

    Then the parties could really go after support from across the old divide. Then everything becomes possible. SDLP still doesn’t survive well in that scenario.

  • Zorin001

    Is it Entryism or is it simply because the younger up and coming activists and members tend to have more liberal social views, certainly in the case of SSM maybe rather than abortion?

  • Granni Trixie

    I don’t think it’s valid to link SSM and abortion.

  • Granni Trixie

    You imply that attracting gay people to SDLP is a ‘bad’ thing? Surely any modern party ought to be up for the challenge of accommodating difference? The challenge is to make new recruits feel they are welcome.

  • Christopher Mc Camley

    “Internationally accepted reasoning”. A strange phrase. There is no right to abortion in any human rights covenant, convention or treaty. The European Court of Human Rights has said several times that there is no right to abortion in the European Convention. And the polls do not show huge support for a liberal abortion regime in Ireland, North or South.

    Very few pro-life Catholics vote for the DUP. They are more likely not to vote. My point was about people not supporting an issue simply because it was supported by the DUP.

  • Christopher Mc Camley

    Not as such, but the Catholic position on both is clear.

  • Christopher Mc Camley

    I think in practice it’s a bit more than that.

  • Granni Trixie

    Surely the catholic position on abortion is based on the belief that life begins at inception (the ‘soul’ kicks in) and that gay people are entitled to be loved and respected just like anybody ? Apples and oranges.

  • Christopher Mc Camley

    Conception. Inception is a movie. Loving and respecting gay people doesn’t mean you have to support same sex marriage.

  • Granni Trixie

    What I was getting at is the churches essential two directives “love of God and love of your fellow man” …which Presumably informs attitudes and treatment towards gay people either with or without support for SSM.

    From the POV that ‘life begins at the point of conception’ it is however reasonable to oppose abortion.

  • Gaygael

    There is no ‘pro-life’ majority.
    There is a pro choice one though. And it keeps growing.

  • Christopher Mc Camley

    In general I agree, but I think Catholics, unlike the former leader of the Liberals, shouldn’t be afraid of stating that sex between people of the same sex is morally wrong.

    And life beginning at conception is basic science, not really a POV

  • Granni Trixie

    First of all people disagree as to when life begins.

    Secondly, the church preaches that all sex outside marriage is ‘wrong’ which many of its followers in practice do not adhere to. You make it sound as though it is only sex between consenting adults of the same sex which is officially ‘wrong’ in the eyes of the church. Cases in the headlines (e.g. as in Maynooth) shows th church is going about its ‘affairs’ in the wrong way.

  • Ryan A

    Wasn’t that part of the ‘leaked’ report used to get Al out in the first place?

  • Croiteir

    And vice versa

  • Croiteir

    It was – the defence didn’t even have to make its case

  • Croiteir

    The falseness was that no client has ever made the claim

  • Korhomme

    We must read different papers.

    The defence produced (new) evidence of Dawn Purvis’s past.

    It sounded to me like ‘victim blaming’.

  • William Kinmont

    Everyone is free to choose which ever particular interpretation if which ever religion or none they wish. However when this results in them advocating or facilitating the harrasment of others who are in a vulnerable and emotionally distressed state they surely need to anylyse their initial choices.
    Polititions should reflect the views of their electorate but also should lead society.

  • Christopher Mc Camley

    The scientific consensus is that life begins at conception.

    Apologies if I gave the impression that same sex sex was wronger than other sex outside marriage.

    And of course lots of Catholics, self included commit sins and don’t adhere to church teaching.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Alasdair was voted out of the leadership by a broad spectrum of the party, my hope is that he helps to bring others through the ranks. I for one would never have joined the party without his insights into local economic affairs.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Two seats that would have been lost by the seat reduction anyway even if Eastwood had John Hume’s tallies.

  • Croiteir

    No – it was overturned due to insufficient evidence – and you cannot have victim blaming if there is no victim

  • Hugh Davison

    ‘Genuine Christianity’? Last I heard there were 104 varieties in NI. Care to give us your definition of ‘genuine’ Christianity?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Perhaps this would be an opportunity to start a Christian Democrat party of sorts?