A former SDLP MLA from Limavady is quitting the party to run as an independent candidate in the Assembly election, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.
Gerry Mullan was elected as the SDLP MLA for East Derry last May, replacing John Dallat who had served in the NI Assembly since 1998.
However, less than a year later, Mr. Dallat has come out of retirement to stand for the SDLP in East Derry after he was selected by a panel which included former SDLP deputy leader Brid Rogers.
Gerry Mullan, who had been a member of the SDLP for 17 years, says his decision has not been an easy one.
Speaking exclusively to the ‘Journal’, Mr. Mullan said: “It is with the utmost regret and disappointment that I have been forced to surrender my allegiance to a party whose founding principles of fairness and equality I have so strongly upheld since its inception.
“I am currently taking legal advice in relation to the manner in which my deselection came about.
“These matters can take a long time to conclude and, for that reason, after a long period of soul searching and speaking with family and members of the community, I have decided to put my name forward as an independent candidate in the forthcoming elections.”
Mr. Mullan, who was a member of Stormont’s Finance Committee, thanked “the hundreds of well wishers” who, he said, have contacted him in recent days.
The 62-year-old father-of-eight said they had “encouraged me to continue the work I started only eight months ago and I promise, if elected, to vigorously continue to bring to book anyone who is a drain on the public purse.”