The SDLP has said the resignation of councillor Patsy Kelly from the party “comes as no surprise”.
Both Mr Kelly, a Derry and Strabane District councillor, and Ms Deehan, a Fermanagh and Omagh District councillor, announced they had resigned from the party on Tuesday.
They have said they will put themselves forward as independent candidates for the Assembly May 5 poll.
Patsy Kelly is the second councillor to leave the SDLP grouping within the new Derry City and Strabane super council within a year following Sean carr last April.
In a statement to the ‘Journal’ both councillors said the move followed “pressure from supporters” who had told them “the SDLP has lost touch with the electorate in West Tyrone”.
They referred to “wrong decisions have been made in West Tyrone in recent Assembly and Westminster elections in respect of candidates resulting in neglect and poor representation over the past ten years”.
Colr. Deehan said: “It is important to build on the success of women councillors in Omagh in the recent local government elections and redress the imbalance in candidate gender. Despite the success of four SDLP women Councillors in Omagh there is not one woman candidate on the SDLP election ticket West of the Bann in these forthcoming elections... This is an unacceptable state of affairs.”
Councillor Kelly said: “With the advent of the Assembly we have seen the arrival of career
politicians whose priorities are self advancement and self perpetuation rather than the daily struggles of ordinary people and the hardships they face.
Speaking this morning Jo Deehan said she felt “let down” by the SDLP.
In a statement, the SDLP said: “Although Colr. Deehan did not put herself forward for selection to be the Assembly candidate either for the current election, or when a previous vacancy arose she has nonetheless decided to run as an independent candidate. We thank her for her previous work as an SDLP representative.
“Patsy Kelly recently had the party whip withdrawn and his decision comes as no surprise.”