Exit from Stormont Executive on agenda for SDLP
The SDLP is attempting to gauge the strength of internal support for moving into an opposition role at Stormont, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
The party's MLAs have been asked to set out their views on the shift – to which leader Alasdair McDonnell is opposed.
Deputy leader Dolores Kelly is expected to welcome the initiative in her address to the opening session of the party's annual conference tonight.
The Upper Bann MLA and some other senior figures in the party are hoping it will lead to the issue being given serious consideration by members.
"There is an on-going debate within the party and I would say that a number of people who were not in favour are now starting to think again," she said.
"The MLAs were invited to prepare papers and I do not think Alasdair has a closed mind on the issue."
The opposition option has been revived by the threat that First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness could subsume responsibility for new planning legislation abandoned by SDLP minister Mark H Durkan.
It is understood a number of MLAs met recently to discuss how the party should respond, which was followed by a brief discussion of how an opposition role could be created at the regular Monday Assembly group meeting.
Mrs Kelly suggested the party should consider the move at last year's conference, warning the SDLP was being tarnished by the failures and tactics of the main Stormont parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein.