SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood announces shake up with new front bench roles for Derry and Tyrone MLAs

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has announced changes to the party’s frontbench team at Stormont today with new roles for Derry MLAs Sinead McLaughlin and Mark H Durkan, East Derry MLA Cara Hunter and West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan.

By Brendan McDaid
Monday, 18th October 2021, 8:57 am

The Foyle MP said that the shakeup of the party’s spokespeople is about ‘holding Ministers to account and delivering better outcomes for people across Northern Ireland’.

Speaking from Stormont this morning, Colum Eastwood MP said: “The SDLP has the most energetic and effective front bench teams of any party in the Assembly. The changes I have announced today will build on the work we have been doing over the last two years to change the lives of the people we represent.

“At a moment when others are retreating to the politics of boycott, division and deadlock, the SDLP team is committed to breaking down barriers and delivering on the priorities of people in all of our communities. That means managing the Covid-19 recovery, addressing the climate crisis and driving forward a prosperity agenda.

Sign up to our daily Derry Journal Today newsletter

Colum Eastwood (centre) has announced a new front bench team shake up with key roles for, (left) Cara Hunter, East Derry MLA and Danniel Crossan, West Tyrone MLA and Foyle MLAs Sinead McLaughlin and Mark H Durkan (right).

“As part of these changes I have created new roles that reflect urgent political priorities. Sinead McLaughlin MLA will take on an ambitious new portfolio focussed on Covid recovery. Given the cross-cutting nature of this brief I have appointed Sinead as Chair of the Executive Office Committee where she will hold the First Ministers to account for the abject failure to produce a robust strategy to transform our society.

“I have also appointed Cara Hunter MLA as the SDLP Climate Champion, reflecting the urgent need to address the crisis of global temperature increases and the impact it will have on a whole generation of people. The consequences of inaction are severe and the SDLP is bringing tough legislative proposals at Stormont and Westminster that will address the crisis. Cara will also take on a new portfolio focussed on the ambitions and needs of a new generation of young people.

“The SDLP team is full of ambitious and talented public representatives who have the energy and the ideas to transform our society. Applying their skills and experience to their new roles, I know that they’ll deliver for the people we represent.”

Reacting to her appointment, SDLP Foyle MLA Sinead McLaughlin expressed her determination to address the neglect of Derry as she takes on her new position as chair of Stormont’s Committee for the Executive Office. The committee’s role is to hold to account the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister, and their department, The Executive Office.

The role is one of the most senior in the Assembly and McLaughlin takes over as the only SDLP MLA who chairs a Stormont committee.

McLaughlin said: “Derry has been left behind for too long. I want justice for Derry when it comes to the creation of jobs, the expansion of our university, the development of our skills, the increase in pay for our workers and in more resources for our city, including for women’s health and mental health.”

The appointments of spokesperson on various areas are as follows:

Sinead Mc Laughlin, Covid Recovery, Executive Office Committee (Chair)

Mark H Durkan, Communities and Culture, Communities Committee

Daniel McCrossan, Education, Education Committee

Cara Hunter, Climate Champion and New Generations, Infrastructure Committee

Matthew O’Toole, Economy and Brexit, Economy Committee (Vice Chair), Finance Committee

Dolores Kelly, Policing, Policing board, Audit Committee (Chair)

Colin McGrath, Health, SDLP Chairman, Health Committee

Pat Catney, Hospitality and High Street Renewal, Finance Committee

Justin McNulty, Young people and Sport, Education Committee

Patsy McGlone, Agriculture and Language, Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee

Sinead Bradley, Justice, Justice Committee

Nichola Mallon, Infrastructure Minister, SDLP Deputy Leader