SDLP leader on Derry City and Strabane District Council, Gerard Diver is set to replace Pat Ramsey at the Northern Ireland Assembly, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.
The news emerged yesterday after the only other candidate in the race, Councillor Martin Reilly, withdrew his nomination.
A selection convention which was to decide between both men will still go ahead at the city’s Maldron Hotel, next Monday, December 22. It will however now simply take the shape of a formal ratification of Mr Diver as a replacement for Mr Ramsey.
Pat Ramsey will officially step down as a SDLP MLA for Foyle on December 31. Colr Diver will then be co-opted to the Assembly before having to conest an election, scheduled to take place in May, 2016.
Both Mr Diver and Mr Reilly are sitting councillors for the city’s Waterside area and both have held the position of Mayor of Derry.
The Stormont seat became available following a recent announcement by veteran SDLP representative Pat Ramsey that he will quit the Assembly on health grounds as of the end of December.
Gerard Diver has been an SDLP Councillor on Council since 2001.
At the time of the announcement of his departure from the Assembly, Pat Ramsey said: “I have been honoured to serve the community for over three decades, so it is with a heavy heart that I announce my retirement. It has been a difficult decision but I must put my health first. I owe that to my family who have supported me through the best and tests of my career. It should go without saying that I wish the party every success going forward. I know Colum has the political direction and drive we need, and I give him my full support without reservation. I think the party is in great shape under the new leadership.”