Patsy lays out leadership pledge

MID-ULSTER MLA Patsy McGlone says the SDLP’s “muddled and misunderstood” message needs to change.

Writing to the Newsletter, Patsy laid out his pledges for his leadership challenge. He is seeking leadership of the party over current leader Margaret Ritchie.

“I have spoken to many people about the problems we face. It was that immediate change was absolutely vital if the future of progressive politics in Ireland is to be safeguarded,” he said.

“Our party is the only one committed to building a society where everyone has access to first class education, healthcare and employment. Our island is home to people from a huge variety of traditions and the SDLP respects each in equal measure.

“Uniting Ireland and its people is of central importance to our party and to me. My conviction is that we all benefit from the progressive stability of an innovative new Ireland; a frontier-free approach to the provision of healthcare, which means those in border areas are treated at the most appropriate local facility, whether North or South; closer co-operation at third level education, which means Ireland can avoid the fee inflation currently taking place in Britain; and a co-ordinated All-Ireland approach to attracting investment and jobs, in the same way we currently work together to attract tourists and visitors.

“My challenge, if elected leader of the SDLP will be to convince those that hold opposing constitutional and cultural views that our shared problems North and South are usually best faced together.

“To paraphrase the famous poet John Hewitt, I am proud of my Derry roots, my Ulster identity, and, like many Protestants and Unionists I know, to call myself Irish. We have more in common than which divides us.”

He said that the SDLP has failed to communicate effectively and their message has become “muddled and misunderstood”.

“Without a genuine engagement and partnership with others we can never deliver the transformation required to create a truly equal and just society. That is how the SDLP did it before, and how we will do it again,” he continued.

“To build this society, we must move beyond the sham “equality” of dividing resources evenly across our separated society and divided communities. The honest equality is the effective delivery of improvements to the lives of people based solely on need, not creed.”