McGlone set for deputy leadership role

MID-ULSTER Assembly Member Patsy McGlone is set to become the Deputy Leader of the SDLP.

With nominations for the position having closed last Friday, it’s understood Mr McGlone was the sole candidate to receive the required backing of at least five party branches.

And he could be poised to take up his post early next year as no other candidates managed to win the minimum threshold for support.

His deputy leadership will come into effect when it’s ratified by the next SDLP conference in February.

Mr McGlone said he hopes to promote service to voters, reconciliation and unity of the people of Ireland in the post of party deputy leader.

“It is an honour to have been nominated by many branches right across the north, and I have already received many messages of goodwill from party activists and supporters,” he said.

“We have a huge job in front of us and it will begin as soon as the new party leader is elected at conference. The new leadership will face the immediate organisational challenge of preparing for the Westminster elections, which could take place in March and must take place by May.”

And he said people are fed up with constant stalemate, paralysis and political failure.

“The voters have trust in the SDLP as the party that can deliver reconciliation, that can move us beyond tribal politics and realise the potential of the Agreed Ireland that we have now achieved. Part of that potential, and for me it is the most important part, is the freedom we have won to debate and discuss a United Ireland in a non-threatening atmosphere,” he said.

“We are now free to be champions for unity without looking over our shoulder at the gunmen and the bombers. The SDLP has always been uniquely placed to deliver unity and that is a task I will be happy to take on,” he added.

Mr McGlone has been an MLA since 1998 and recently stepped down from Cookstown District Council, having served as a councillor since 1993.

The SDLP's current deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell is running against social development minister Margaret Ritchie for leadership.