Nichola Mallon is the new Deputy Leader of the SDLP

Nichola Mallon has become the new Deputy Leader of the SDLP, the position was vacant after the former Deputy Leader, Fearghal McKinney lost his seat at the 2016 Assembly Election.

Speaking about her election she said;

“This is a critical moment for our politics.

“The challenge we all face is to forge a society based on a positive accommodation of difference and diversity.

“That challenge is made all the more important following the Brexit Bill vote last night.

“I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to step up and take on that work within the SDLP and with political parties and civic society across this island.”


  • Nordie Northsider

    Interesting. I recall an interview on Talkback in which she seemed to be open to merger with Fianna Fáil, saying that everything had changed and that the SDLP had to consider all its options in the aftermath of the General Election wipeout.

  • hollandia

    I really don’t think that’s optional for the SDLP, given the sheer contempt with which northern nationalists hold FF, and Micheal Martin in particular. What the SDLP should do, now that they have two reasonably young, able and talented leaders is focus on rebuilding and selling a different option to SF. I don’t think it’s too late for them at all, but they need to have a clear out of yesterday’s people. But if they consider merging with FF, I could reasonably say its game over for them, given they will lose a large amount of their membership instantaneously and they will not be able to go full “Micheal Martin” on SF, for exactly the same reason.

  • ted hagan

    A very able politician with a tough task ahead. The party may regain some strength when the current deadlock between the two tribal chiefs is over. This state badly needs a party like the SDLP.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Genuinely thought she was already.

  • Granni Trixie

    Nichola comes across as an intelligent and capable person who shows leadership in her community. We need more politicians like this and I wish her well in her new role.

  • Nordie Northsider

    I take your point about FF – I never assumed that Northern Nationalists would give them an easy ride if and when they finally fulfil their decades-long commitment to organise as a serious political party. But neither do I think that the SDLP is salvageable, however talented its leadership team may be. It’s been a tale of continual decline and the party faithful insisting that they’ll do better next time with better leadership, better organisation etc. Simply put, voters see them as goners, They need a shot in the arm from somewhere.
    Reading the SDLP press statement regarding Mallon’s election, you can sense a party looking (Southwards) for a partner.

    “As we enter a period of immense instability on the island and across this continent, there will be an inevitable shift in politics. More than ever, we have to be outward looking, we have to be open to the changes on this island and open to its opportunity. I have given Nichola special responsibility to undertake that work on behalf of the SDLP.”

  • Gaygael

    Good call.
    She is very competent and appears to be doing very solid constituency work on the ground. She appeals outside what’s left of the SDLP rump in North Belfast.

    This could help move that seat firmly into a safe column barring any further disasters.

  • Nevin
  • the rich get richer

    I wonder will she have Gerry’s longevity…….He must be in the Guinness book of Records….

  • The worm!

    To be fair, whilst echoing your sentiment completely, they’ve had good people before (some of our best Executive ministers have been SDLP) and it hasn’t saved them.

    I don’t mean to sound defeatist, and I would dearly love to see a revitalised SDLP for the good of the country so lets hope that she can make a difference.

  • Neil

    Well at 34 years Gerry’s well above average. Hume lasted 22 years which is obviously totally fine. The problem (everyone outside SF seem to have) must kick in somewhere between 22 years and 34 years. I wonder where that imaginary line is? I assume it’s just behind Gerry, wherever he happens to be at the time.

    It seems that in recent years the average for an SDLP leader is somewhere around the 4 year mark – this is seemingly preferably to a longer stint, maybe Ritchie wins the prize for lasting a year so well done her, not that it did the SDLP much good at the time obviously.

    But the message is clear, enemies of SF would much prefer the leadership to change much more regularly. I’m sure Connolly House is taking note of those concerns.


    That aside Mallon seems like a good choice. Good luck to her. Nationalism needs the SDLP (and Sinn Fein).

  • RWP

    Maybe there is a space for a pro-GFA, pro-cooperation grouping , possibly as a coalition of the UUP, Alliance and SDLP which could caucus as a single parliamentary group within Stormont. Such a grouping would have 30 MLAs which would be more than either the DUP or SF.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Not sure that would work, RWP. The SDLP and the UUP are miles apart on Europe and on so many other issues,The SDLP want an Irish language Act, for example, while the UUP have ruled it out.

  • Granni Trixie

    As discussed fully on Slugger and elsewhere previously, it ain’t gonna happen.

  • notimetoshine

    Agree with you there. It may well sound defeatist, but I don’t see how the SDLP can recover from the repeated blows they have faced over the last ten years. They are moving closer and closer to irrelevancy.

  • Aodh Morrison

    I very much doubt that it is the longevity per se of the Dear Leader’s innings that is remarkable to those outside the Shinner bubble. I rather think it his continued acceptance as the leader despite the, ahem, personal ‘challenges’ he has experienced.

    I suppose, like the past, Shinnerdom is a foreign country, they do things differently there.

    Still, from an outsider’s perspective, Adams remains usefully instructive. It’s very much a case of ‘by their heroes shall you know them’.

  • file

    What on earth has this wee semi-state done to you to make you declare that it deserves a party like the SDLP. Surely its misdemeanours cannot have been so bad as to deserve the SDLP?

  • Stephen Kelly

    Wow by their heroes shall you know , most profound sir good one. My goodness that made me think of Arlene and the DUP/UDA/UVF you know and the wallpaper thing and the gospel singer guy with that fella Billy Wright. Oh well ho hum most profound.

  • Stephen Kelly

    That,s what i was thinking more chance of the UUP merging with the DUP. But then their are a few salaries to consider so maybe not.

  • the rich get richer

    Nicola Mallon was 4 years old when Gerry Adams ascended to his Throne at the Top of Sinn Fein……..

  • Easóg

    How come it’s ok to hoke out the ‘sins’ of Sinn Féin from thirty years ago and use them to denigrate all and sundry but it’s not cool to do the same for the SDLP? They aren’t called the stoops for nothing.

  • aquifer

    I think that so long as the Orange UUP play the counterproductive game of trying to out DUP the DUP, (as SDLP for SF) that SDLP Alliance and others should be prepared to leave the UUP out. Alliance can do the UUP job of making the Union work within an Alliance/ SDLP partnership.

    An actual coalition is not necessary, all it takes is for them to practice taking up ministries in the Executive, which is an enforced coalition already. Each partnership group party could make public statements related to issues where their intra-sectarian competitor is weak. Where there is a very controversial policy agreed within a sectarian bloc such as abortion rights or privatisation, a partner party of the other sectarian colour could still arrange in its public statements to attract votes to the group.

    This proposal reflects the realities of power in Northern Ireland, where a centre group can essentially tip the balance if they are prepared withhold their co-operation.

    Doing partnership politics behind their own firmly shut door, and not playing piggy in the middle or snout in the appointments trough like Alliance have done on their own.

  • aquifer

    Provisional Sinn Fein surely out-sinned the ungunned SDLP?

  • Gopher

    Let’s guess, Progay marriage, anti abortion , public purse nationalist that will fall in behind Gerry just like her lap dog leader…

  • 1729torus

    What do the SDLP/UUP offer that SF/DUP don’t do better? Serious question that needs a clear and simple answer.

  • Easóg

    Do bharúil?

  • SDLP supporter

    ‘Easog’, sin an cleas-ainm ceart a feilionn duit: lan de fuath.

  • Christopher Mc Camley

    In simple terms, leaving aside the historic issues about support for the IRA (SF) or not (SDLP), I think the SDLP approach was achieve a united Ireland by making Northern Ireland successful, while the SF approach was achieve a united Ireland by making NI a failure.

    NI needs to be successful enough so that the Republic doesn’t fear reunification and people in NI don’t see significant economic risks, but not so successful that people link the success with continuation in the United Kingdom.

  • Starviking

    Slightly less playing to the extremes?

  • tmitch57

    Pardon my ignorance, but when I see the names SDLP and Mallon together in the same sentence I think of Seamus. I googled her and didn’t find any evidence of a family connection to the previous long-term deputy leader. Is there one?

    In any event being deputy leader of the SDLP today is much less prestigious than it was in Seamus’s day. The party continues to bleed electoral share to the Shinners as its traditional voters die off.

  • Easóg

    Go raibh maith agat. Nach dtig leat síntí fada a dhéanamh?

  • tmitch57

    When I interviewed Oliver Napier, the first long-term leader of Alliance, in 1998, he told me that he retired when he did because he didn’t want to become another Hume or Paisley. He didn’t mention Adams to my recollection, but he thought that when he retired Hume and especially Paisley had already lasted too long and that there was a bit of a personality cult in their respective parties.

  • Granni Trixie

    Looks like a pattern – David Ford stepped down last year as leader of APNI before anyone was asking him to.