SDLP to formally ratify election candidates

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood

The SDLP in Derry will tonight formally ratify their candidates to contest next year’s Northern Ireland Assembly election.

The selection convention will take place at the city’s Maldron Hotel. The three who will fight for seats in the Foyle constituency at the next election are incumbent MLA’s, Colum Eastwood, the SDLP leader, Mark H Durkan, current Environment Minister at Stormont as well as Gerard Diver.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan.

Whilst the selection convention will go ahead tonight, the process will be one of simply having all three candidates formally endorsed by delegates of the SDLP in Derry. Both Mr Eastwood and Mr Durkan were unopposed in their candidacy from the outset of the process.

Mr Diver, who was formally the SDLP leader on Derry City and Strabane District Council, will be co-opted to Stormont at the beginning of 2016. He will replace outgoing MLA Pat Ramsey who last month retired from politics on health grounds. It was initially expected there would be a selection contest for Mr Ramsey’s seat between Colr Gerard Diver and Colr Martin Reilly. However, Colr Reilly withdrew his name from the contest leaving the path clear for Mr Diver to step into the position unopposed.

The Northern Ireland Assembly Elections are scheduled to take place in May next year.

SDLP man Gerry Diver.

SDLP man Gerry Diver.