Race for Dallat’s east Derry seat

SDLP MLA John Dallat
SDLP MLA John Dallat

The search is on to find a candidate to run for the SDLP in East Derry in the 2016 Assembly election following news veteran SDLP MLA John Dallat is retiring from politics, writes Sheena Jackson.

The 68-year-old Kilrea man will not be contesting the Assembly elections in 2016.

After 17 years as an MLA, and 33 years as a councillor in Coleraine, Mr Dallat told the ‘Journal’: “It’s time to go.”

The SDLP this week confirmed a selection process is underway and “applicants will move forward to a selection convention to be convened in the coming weeks”.

“The party looks forward to making an announcement when this process is complete and continuing to deliver for the people of East Derry in the Assembly,” said the spokesperson.

The ‘Journal’ understands there are six candidates who have put themselves forward for selection, including Causeway Coast and Glens Borough councillor Gerry Mullan; former SDLP councillor Michael Coyle; former SDLP councillor, Brenda Stevenson; and Derry City and Strabane District Colr. Jim McKeever.

It is understood all six candidates will move forward to the selection convention.

Mr Dallat refused to be drawn on who should be selected, but had this advice for anyone who gets elected.

“Keep your feet on the ground, and stay well aware of every issue. That pothole is just as important as something that seems more exciting,” said Mr Dallat.