No decision yet on SDLP replacement for Gerard Diver

Colr. Gerard Diver and Alice Diver officially open the 34th City of Derry Drama Festival at the Waterside Theatre with Elizabeth McCloskey, festival chairperson, and Michael Kaiser, adjudicator. (DER1014PG053)
Colr. Gerard Diver and Alice Diver officially open the 34th City of Derry Drama Festival at the Waterside Theatre with Elizabeth McCloskey, festival chairperson, and Michael Kaiser, adjudicator. (DER1014PG053)

It could be almost a month before a decision will be made by the SDLP in Derry about who will replace Gerard Diver on Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Mr Diver will this week take up his position as a MLA for Foyle after he was chosen to replace Pat Ramsey who retired from politics on December 31 past.

The process following Mr Diver’s resignation from Council is that the Clerk of the local authority will launch the process for a co-option onto the Council which normally follows a 28-day time frame.

This gives the SDLP in the city some weeks to play with before having to hold a selection convention at local level. Whilst the SDLP yesterday would not be drawn on the name of any potential replacement for Gerard Diver, the ‘Journal’ understands that to date just one person has submitted themselves for consideration.

In statement to the ‘Journal’ a spokesperson for the SDLP said: “The Party is currently going through an internal selection process to identify a replacement on Derry and Strabane District Council following Gerard Diver’s selection as a MLA for Foyle.”

The departure of Mr Diver from the local political arena also leaves his position as leader of the SDLP bloc on the Council open.

On December 22, the SDLP in Derry formally ratified their candidates who will contest the next Northern Ireland Assemby elections scheduled for May this year.

They are SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, current Minister of the Environment at Stormont, Mark H Durkan and Gerard Diver.

It was initially believed that there would be an electoral contest within the SDLP for Pat Ramsey’s seat after he left politics on health grounds. However, the other nominee in the frame, Colr Martin Reilly withdrew his name prior to the selection convention leaving the way clear for Mr Diver. Following his selection, Mr Diver said: “I am looking forward to serving the citizens of the Foyle constituency with my colleagues Colum Eastwood and Mark Durkan.”