MLA Colum Eastwood is ‘ready to lead’

Colum Eastwood, SDLP MLA for Foyle
Colum Eastwood, SDLP MLA for Foyle

Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood has said “it is time for a new direction” and he is “hungry for change and ready to lead the SDLP.”

Speaking after confirming he will challenge Alasdair McDonnell for the SDLP leadership, Mr. Eastwood said the party should “stand for a positive brand of progressive nationalism.” He said he doesn’t underestimate the challenge ahead, but “I do think I can do it.”

“I think it’s one that needs to be taken up. I have already received support from across the north and from all sections of the party. The party needs to move forward, but it’s going to take a lot more than just me for that to happen. It’s going to take a new generation of leaders to step forward,” claimed Mr Eastwood, who stressed he did not seek nominations. He plans to meet with party members over the next number of weeks “to spell out exactly what I will do as party leader, if elected, and to convince them their faith in me is warranted.”

Mr Eastwood said the leadership challenge “isn’t about personalities.”

“It’s not about Alasdair McDonnell. It’s not about me. It’s about the future of the country and the SDLP’s place in that, and that’s how I’ll take this forward. That’s how I take everything forward. It’s about trying to develop ideas that can bring Northern Ireland and Ireland as whole into a new era, and I think I am well placed to do that.”

Mr. Eastwood added: “We have to be honest about where the party stands, and clear about where we want to go. That is the conversation we need to have with each other in the weeks to come. I am hungry for change and ready to lead.”