Colum Eastwood launches SDLP leadership bid
The young Assembly member challenging Alasdair McDonnell for the leadership of the SDLP has said "it's time for a change in the party".
Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood (32) said he is "ready to lead" as he launched his campaign yesterday in the Hive, a social enterprise in west Belfast.
"The election results in the last couple of elections have been very, very poor for the SDLP and I think its time that we stood up and took notice," the former Derry Mayor said.
"I think I can begin to turn things around in what will be a long process but I am ready and able for the work."
But Dr McDonnell said he believed he would still be leader after the contest at the party's annual conference in November.
The South Belfast MP told the BBC: "Colum, quite frankly, was campaign manager in one of those election results and I wouldn't accuse him or hold him accountable for the fact that there was a few votes lost."
Dr McDonnell has come in for increasing internal criticism in the wake of the May General Election.
He resigned as an MLA on June 21, but has been adamant that he will remain an MP and will not give up the leadership of the party. But his critics claim it is not possible to lead the SDLP from Westminster.