Mark Durkan to stand for Fine Gael in Dublin

Foyle SDLP MP Mark Durkan. DER1815MC134
Foyle SDLP MP Mark Durkan. DER1815MC134

Former SDLP leader Mark Durkan is to stand for Fine Gael in the forthcoming European elections just weeks after his former party entered into a formal partnership with rivals Fianna Fáil.

The shock announcement that he is suspending his SDLP membership and standing for Fine Gael in the Dublin constituency broke at lunchtime on Monday.

It is understood the 58-year-old former Foyle MP will be formally unveiled at a candidate this afternoon.

Mr Durkan narrowly lost out on the Foyle Parliamentary election to Sinn Fein candidate Elisha McCallion back in June 2017, ending decades of SDLP domination at Westminster elections.

Mr Durkan, who led the SDLP from 2001 to 2010, has kept a low profile over the past two years.

His successor at the helm of the party, fellow Derry man Colum Eastwood, too over as party leader in 2015 and announced a formal partnership with Fianna Fáil just weeks ago.