Colum Eastwood, who has challenged Dr Alasdair McDonnell to become the leader of the SDLP after the party’s Annual Conference next month, addressed the party faithful in Limavady last night where he was introduced by the Assembly member for the constituency John Dallat.
East Derry was the first constituency to endorse Eastwood and see him as one of a new generation of younger people who will lead the party into the assembly elections scheduled for next May.
Speaking afterwards John Dallat said: “This is an exciting time for the grassroots of the SDLP who have when choosing a party leader at the annual conference next month.
“Tonight’s meeting brought back memories of those days when John Hume travelled the rural constituencies bringing a message of hope while inspiring confidence in the electorate that things don’t have to be as they are but are capable of change.
“Colum Eastwood’s vision for a new future for the SDLP leaves behind the failed politics of the recent past when ministerial cars, spin doctors and special advisors dominated the political scene and overshadowed the real needs of the electorate.
“There is no good reason why the SDLP should be stalled in the siding while the DUP and SF massage their egos at the expense of ordinary people who want to get on with building a new Northern Ireland worthy of and capable of holding its own in a new Europe where borders have been dismantled and people allowed to integrate while having their aspirations respected.”
During his address Mr Eastwood emphasised that his campaign for leadership of the party was positive and a healthy development of democracy.
“It is a natural progression following outstanding people like John Hume, Seamus Mallon, Brid Rogers and many others who brought us to where we are. We must now move on building on the foundation stones laid by wonderful people who have been written into Irish history for all the right reasons.”