Support from former SDLP figures for leadership contender Colum Eastwood continues to grow with a founding member of the party declaring his support for the Foyle MLA.
Former Mid Ulster MLA and prominent civil rights campaigner, Denis Haughey told the ‘Journal’ he is “strongly supporting” 32-year-old Colum Eastwood in his bid to take the leadership from Alasdair McDonnell.
“I think it’s time for a young hand on the tiller,” said Mr Haughey, a former advisor to John Hume. “I am strongly supporting Colum.”
Mr Haughey joins SDLP heavyweights Seamus Mallon, Seán Farren and Brid Rodgers in supporting the SDLP’s youngest MLA.
Former SDLP deputy leader Brid Rogers told the ‘Journal’ Colum Eastwood represents change.
“I think if we don’t change leadership, it’s not going to be good, and I do think it will have consequences running into Assembly elections,” Mrs Rodgers, a former Stormont minister, said.
I think it’s time for a young hand on the tiller.Denis Haughey
“When you look at the statistics from the last four years and, particulary the next generation, it was John Hume who inspired a whole generation. They stopped voting because they see no reason to vote and they need to be inspired by an inspirational person and say ‘we want to support that person, we are looking for leadership’, and I think Colum is that person. It’s not a case of ‘anyone but Alasdair’.
“There was so much hard work that went into building the party in what was the most difficult of times, and my main interest is the party which still has a role to play and which needs to get stronger and, for that to happen, new fresh leadership and an insprational leadership is needed.
“Colum will inspire young people. We need a new enthusiasm, a new hope and Colum will be a springboard for that.”
Mrs Rodgers added: “We need a new generation to be looking at the SDLP and to be inspired to become part of our movement, and that’s not happening.”
More on who’s supporting Colum Eastwood here www.derryjournal.com/news/mark-durkan-mp-joins-seamus-mallon-in-support-of-eastwood-as-sdlp-leader-1-7039690