Colum Eastwood has won the leadership of the SDLP, prising it from the control of Alistair McDonnell. This is very significant. One thing ironically which McDonnell was successful in doing was in changing the make up of the party. This meant attracting young people and more women. Colum Eastwood is a young and energetic choice. He is from the SDLP's traditional heartland - Derry. He was its youngest mayor at a point and was in charge when it received its UK City of Culture news and when the Saville report on Bloody Sunday was announced. He is considered to be on the 'Green wing' of the party and has been suggesting a progressive nationalism aiming more fervently at a united Ireland in the future and developing stronger north south links. His appointment may bring fresh vitality to the party or it could lead to some in fighting and internal division as more conservative forces react. His appointment was perhaps not surprising when considering the fact that he has the support of party stalwarts such as Seamus Mallon, Mark Durkan and John Humes wife Pat.
The antics on the hill get more and more embarrassing by the day. This Armistice day, a day of reverence and solemnity, the event seemed to point to cross community progress with the noticeable and, it has to be said, admirable attendance of Sinn Fein, in what has been considered in the past a unionist event. The occasion however was sullied by Sam Morrison of the TUV singing the National Anthem at the end - something that was not on the program and was obviously concerning for nationalists. This 'stunt' illustrates the bitterness of some on the hill and certainly makes people despair. The only good element was the apologies from Mike Nesbitt of the UUP. Something which was caught on camera and was admirable and progressive for once. Listen to the Stephen Nolan Radio program of 12//11/2015 for a full and fiery debate on this issue.
This is from the View this week - Very good debate on what is the Petition of Concern ;what are the 'concerns' about it and what are the alternatives -Essential viewing - Take notes!!!
If only our folks on the hill could have half of the charisma, passion, purpose, eloquence, drive and sense of caring for her constituents than this MP. They have a lot to learn. Take note of Mhairi Black - You will certainly see more of her in future!
Gay marriage rights are back on the agenda again. A Sinn Fein / SDLP motion was debated today over Gay rights - It produced a majority vote in the NI Assembly for the first time. It also included some passionate debate from both sides. Of course a majority in NI doesn't mean much. The DUP placed a Petition of Concern which vetoed the motion as predicted. However, it was an important milestone and shows the pressure on the DUP. Mike Nesbitt, who admitted his views were on the 'wrong side of History' abstained from the vote as did an SDLP opponent, Alban McGuinness. The actual use of the petition of concern has been as much a talking point today as the vote. It has been claimed on Slugger O Toole website that the Petition of Concern are actually pre packaged and ready to be used when the party decides - This will add fuel to the fire of the argument for reform.
Mr John Wishart -