SDLP adopt a conscience policy on abortion at their special conference

At a special conference today in Maghera, the SDLP have allowed their members and representatives a conscience vote on the issue of abortion. This allows MLAs such as Claire Hanna a chance to vote for a less restrictive regime around abortion in Northern Ireland. The vast majority of the SDLP parliamentary party will likely still vote in favour of the status quo, but this does open the way for more pro-choice activitsts within the party to advance their views. The … Read more

SDLP to hold special conference on abortion in private

From John Manley in the Irish News; The SDLP has confirmed that next month’s special conference to review abortion policy will be held behind closed doors. The party will hold a conference on Saturday May19 dedicated entirely to abortion policy after it was decided that there would not have been adequate time to discuss the contentious issue at last weekend’s annual conference in Belfast. An hour had intially been earmarked to debate a number of motions relating to abortion at … Read more

Post Conference Retreat

Dominic O’Reilly is a SDLP Member and attended the party’s recent conference I am a mess of contradictions! Some years ago I took the decision to join a political party. Meanwhile for the last fifteen years I have been actively involved in youth ministry within the Church. To the extent that some eight years ago I entered studies for the diocesan priesthood. While I did not see this through to completion it was an incredibly fruitful time and period of … Read more

Colum Eastwood: The real choice is whether we want to take up power in this corner of Ireland.

The SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood writes for Slugger about the current round of talks that are ongoing at Stormont I’ve always thought that one of the great attractions of politics is found in its ever evolving nature. Many of those who are active or take an interest in political life are drawn to the fact that each day brings with it a different story, a different opportunity and a different challenge. That constant change is driven by a combination of … Read more

A Year Without Government Series: Part II

This article makes up the second part of a series that takes a satirical look back on the last year and a bit of Northern Irish Politics. The following was written entirely tongue in cheek and none of it should be taken very seriously. Find Part I here. The Assembly Election Debate It is a time honoured tradition of the Assembly election cycle that the BBC and UTV bring representatives from the five largest parties into a room together to shout … Read more

Eastwood “I still know that the constitutional position will not be changed overnight even in with the upheaval caused by Brexit”

SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood gave an address to the D’Arcy McGee Summer School on Brexit and he made some interesting comments about how Unionist parties view comments on this subject from Nationalist leaders; I am conscious that unionism’s kneejerk reaction to this kind of language will be naturally defensive and some will automatically assume that I am speaking about some sort of sudden re-unification to avoid Brexit. Let me be clear – I am not. Of course my view as an … Read more

Colum Eastwood argues for a Border Poll after Brexit process

At the SDLP manifesto launch, Colum Eastwood was asked by the Irish News Political Correspondent, John Manley about a border poll and here is how he responded; I want a border poll, we’ve just made it a lot more winnable, because of the work that Mark and our MPs did in Westminster with David Davis. The work that we did in negotiations  when we were talking about lots of different things, we were talking to the British Secretary of State … Read more

UTV Leaders’ Debate #vote17 – squabbling politicians talk in clichés #ae17

If there was a winner of tonight’s debate it was Cliché. Though Lothario might be a close runner up. There were no knock out blows. Few punches caused any leader to wobble towards the ropes. Instead they parried them away with relative ease. While the lack of a studio audience eliminated oohs and ahs and mischievous clapping, it did also mean that the questions could be crisply delivered by Marc Mallett who kept the rough and tumble in the playground as well-behaved as could be expected.

Colum Eastwood: NI Executive need to come to a collective response on RHI

SOAPBOX Writing exclusively for Slugger, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood invokes the old political truism that if a story involving a political scandal runs into the second week then resignations always follow. Arlene Foster is now facing into her second week of the biggest political scandal to hit Stormont since devolution. This story isn’t go away anytime soon, in fact it’s growing legs …

Eastwood to boycott the Trump White House

This statement was released yesterday by the SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood on the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Both Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster have pledged to continue on engagement with the Trump administration. He says; “As things fall apart, the centre ground is struggling to know what is worth holding on to. Mainstream politics remains uneasy and unsure as to its place, its power and its purpose. “Donald Trump has swept in … Read more

UUP Conference: Mike and Colum address the party faithful; opposition policies still sketchy #UUP16

FAMILIAR VENUE BUT SOME NEW FACES at the UUP conference today. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood’s was received with a standing ovation, while Mike Nesbitt set out his stall to convince critics why his chosen path was the correct one. Confident performances, but still lacking the detail of Opposition policies that will be developed.

NI Executive agrees multi-million pound funding for City of Derry Airport

Announced yesterday was the news that the City of Derry Airport, currently owned by Derry City & Strabane District Council, is in line to received an as yet unspecified sum (although Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said it was a multi-million pound deal, and that it had been signed off). Many will know that the airport runs at a loss to the ratepayers of the council of £2.145 million per year. Ryanair announced recently that they would be cutting their Derry-Stansted … Read more

Theresa Villiers: “ultimately it is parliament’s decision whether we repeal the 1972 European Communities Act or whether we don’t.”

Andy’s valiant attempt at providing clarity on the role of the devolved institutions in the UK’s withdrawal from the EU doesn’t appear to have worked for some of our local representatives. The Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, couldn’t have been clearer. “In the weeks and months ahead we will be working with both the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive on all these matters,” [Theresa Villiers] told BBC’s Sunday Politics show. “But ultimately it is parliament’s decision whether we … Read more

Some Silver Linings in the SDLP’s Dark Clouds

The results are in and for the SDLP again it is a story of decline as the party returns with 12 MLAs and continues to shed votes. However, there are some silver linings for the party, that even a cynic like me cannot ignore. The team is smaller, but arguably better– In past elections people would regularly point to the lack of new faces in the SDLP parliamentary party. However, this time there is a relatively fresh sense about this … Read more

SDLP launch their plan for government or a play book for opposition?

Two days ago the SDLP ventured West of the Bann to Dungannon for the launch of their manifesto for the 2016 Assembly election. The party was pledging a radical and ambitious plan for the next five years and this is the first opportunity that the SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood has to stamp his policy direction on the party. The full 49 page document is available here for you to read, but here are some of the key bits I found … Read more

Two SDLP Councillors resign from the party in West Tyrone.

The SDLP are launching their election campaign this morning and they have some bad news greeting leader, Colum Eastwood as the BBC’s Gareth Gordon tweets; SDLP councillors Josephine Deehan& @PatsyKellySDLP resign and will stand as indsocial democrats in W Tyrone. Blow for @columeastwood — Gareth Gordon (@BBCGarethG) April 5, 2016 Ryan McAleer from the Ulster Herald follows up with; StrabanecllrPatsy Kelly and OmaghcllrJo Deehanhave blamed “unconstitutionalpractices and cronyism” within @SDLPlive locally. #AE16 — Ryan McAleer(@RyanMcAleerUH) April 5, 2016 John Manley … Read more

Eastwood would talk to Dissident Republicans

Interesting interview with the Irish Times with Brian Rowan speaking to the SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood. The interview focused on security issues and how best to deal with the threat posed by dissident republicans. Speaking to Rowan, Eastwood said; I would go anywhere and speak to anyone if I thought it would save one life He continued arguing; If Irish history shows us anything, it’s that a security response alone won’t work. That means we have to constantly take on and … Read more

Soapbox: Will the SDLP’s Achilles heel be the City that was once its bastion?

Hugh Brown is a Derry based reader, who occasionally writes Soapbox pieces for Slugger. He argues that the Achilles heel of Colum Eastwood speech was that it lacked policy detail and any explanation of where investment money will come from. Following the SDLP AGM in Derry, we are no further forward in what the SDLP tend to do in the run-up to the May election. Colum Eastwood’s demeanour reminded me of the Irish Labour Party before its decimation. His speech … Read more