28/09/2001

Six join battle for SDLP Deputy Leadership

Nominations for the SDLP leader and deputy leader positions have all been received ahead of the closing date.

The closing date for nominations for the SDLP leadership contest came on Friday September 28 at 5.30pm. SDLP members will now vote on the merit of each candidate nominated at the party’s annual conference on November 10.

To date, only Stormont Finance Minister Mark Durkan has put his name forward to replace John Hume as party leader.

However, there are six candidates for the position of deputy leader, currently held by Seamus Mallon.

The six in contention are Sean Farren, Denis Haughey, Patricia Lewsley, Alban Maginness, Margaret Ritchie, and Brid Rodgers.

The leadership of the nationalist party became vacant on Monday 17 September when John Hume announced that he was retiring from the post he has held for 22 years. Mr Hume, a veteran politician and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, cited health reasons for his decision to cut back on his workload.

Following Mr Hume’s announcement, deputy leader of the SDLP, Séamus Mallon, quelled speculation that he would be in the running to replace him. Mr Mallon also said that he was resigning his position as deputy leader of the SDLP.

Mr Durkan, the only person who has put his name forward for leadership, represents the Foyle constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly and has proven himself as Finance minister in the Stormont Executive.

Sources indicate that Mr Durkan is the favourite to succeed Mr Hume and that his bid for the leadership will be unchallenged in the annual SDLP convention in November. (AMcE)

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