A century since Markievicz MP – are we much further on?

In the lead-up to the Assembly election I looked at the potential gender representation of the cohort returning to the Hill. A record 27 out of 90 Assembly members (30%) were returned. From looking at the 18 constituencies there are 12 seats that will be not be filled by female candidates. This is due, in most cases, to the almost certain re-election of incumbents or that the nearest challenger is another man. Countess Markievicz was of course the first woman … Read more

SDLP conference – a party ill at ease with itself over opposition & strategy #sdlp13

Over half the motions at the SDLP policy-making annual conference were addressed on Friday afternoon and evening. Participation in debate was sporadic and the numbers of delegates in the hall were low compared to the number catching up in the hotel corridors and social areas. One observer recalled that not much more than 50 people were in the hall for Friday’s health debate, and a fifth of them were lobbyists! That was a large attendance compared with mid-morning on Saturday. … Read more

Margaret Ritchie signs off as leader

Margaret Ritchie outgoing leader speech

Margaret Ritchie addressed the SDLP conference on Saturday afternoon. Ostensibly introducing a panel on Creating Jobs Supporting People, she reflected that she first entered politics to serve people. Outgoing @sdlplive leader Margaret Ritchie addressing SDLP conference (mp3) She pointed to a “return to poverty” and a new phenomenon of “middle income poverty”. She described “the onslaught of Tory Welfare Reform” as “a major money-saving exercise at the expense of those at the bottom”. David Cameron says “We’re all in this … Read more

Tears of joy in February 2010 … now turned to tears of sadness?

Can’t believe Mick didn’t use this classic image from the February 2010 leadership election vote at the SDLP party conference to illustrate his earlier post about Margaret Ritchie’s announcement that she is to step down as party leader and also as MLA for South Down. Apologies to Margaret who I know hates the picture 🙁 Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving … Read more

SDLP launch manifesto … flags, symbols, and upping the ante on unification

It was the SDLP’s turn on Wednesday to launch their manifesto. … make no mistake, the SDLP, an Irish Nationalist Party, desperately wants a better Northern Ireland. We want to see a North which is attractive to business: a North that takes care of its sick and gives dignity and respect to its older citizens. A North which is safe and a great place to work and to raise a family. It was back to their campaign’s central message of … Read more

SDLP campaign launch: uniting people and building prosperity … and a tweet-up

Having postponed from earlier in the week, Margaret Ritchie this morning corralled the SDLP’s Assembly candidates together with many of the younger council candidates in Belfast’s Hilton Hotel to launch their election campaigns. Each party expends a lot of effort and expense organising these launch events … all for twenty or so reporters (and the occasional blogger) to turn up and provide a few minutes or inches of coverage. That aside, the SDLP’s leader called it a “marvellous opportunity”. The … Read more

Destiny’s child

I’d hazard a guess the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie impact on the southern electorate’s consciousness is somewhere just above that of Tom Elliott and a fair way below Peter Robinson’s. Despite that and declaring “she had no wish to interfere” in the forthcoming election there she has done exactly that with an attempt to damage Sinn Féin’s vote (no mention of Fianna Fail and their destruction of the economy?): We in the SDLP want good relations with the three main parties, … Read more

Margaret Ritchie is offering real leadership

   While one nationalist leader may be fading out from the northern scene, another is exhibiting real poise and growing self confidence. This image and this underrated leader’s speech deserve an imaginative, constructive and magnanimous response.  SDLP Progressive nationalism is more confident, more optimistic, and more ready to engage wholeheartedly across the divide. We are not afraid to say ‘Northern Ireland’ or to encounter a member of the British Royal family at a function. How ridiculous was it for Martin … Read more

SDLP: Minds clouded by SF?

A passing glance at the SDLP party conference caused me to think they had a little too much emphasis on SF. So, I ran their leader’s speech through a word cloud to find out when Sinn Féin appeared on the list of most mentioned phrases. You hit ‘Sinn’ as the 10th most popular word during Margaret Ritchie’s address to the faithful. It beat ‘economy’. Mark McGregorBlogging at: http://heartsofoakandsteel.wordpress.com http://heartsofoakandsteel.wordpress.com

SDLP Conference Preview

Margaret Ritchie SDLP leadership campaign promotional poster - with the ink running in the Newcastle rain

I’ve found my thick pack of papers from February’s SDLP conference in the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle and the memories are flooding back. Right in the heart of Margaret Ritchie’s rain-swept South Down constituency, she wrestled the leadership of the party from the clutches of Alasdair McDonnell. Lamp posts were adorned with water-damaged posters. Inside the hotel, there was the air of an Ideal Home Exhibition with badges and stickers being handed out everywhere you went. … the candidates’ … Read more

Ritchie on the ‘stuck’ Executive…

SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie says the NI assembly continues to be ‘dysfunctional.’ In a blistering attack on incomplete projects in the term just ended the South Down MP predicts the Executive’s performance will worsen under the weight of further cuts. These are the key areas of ‘failure’ highlighted by her: “The long and expensive process of local government has collapsed in chaos. Letters informing principals that their new building is long-fingered again are landing on mats in empty schools. Sinn … Read more

SDLP: I swear they are real republicans

On May 12th I posted a mocked up version of SDLP MPs making their solemn declaration/affirmation of allegiance to ‘Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors’ It was variously described by pro-SDLP contributors as a ‘new low’ for Slugger (x4), ‘inane’, ‘masturbatory, a ‘steaming log’, ‘lowering the tone’ and even resulted in one claim of a commenter leaving the site. So I apologise in advance for directly linking Margaret Ritchie actually taking that affirmation to her Queen: And the … Read more