SDLP leadership candidate Conall McDevitt has pledged to unite the party if he is elected as leader.
Launching his campaign for the leadership yesterday, the south Belfast MLA also vowed to seek political reform to deliver a more accountable and open system of government.
Mr McDevitt said: “I want to lead the SDLP into the next election offering voters compelling reasons to put us back at the heart of regional and national politics.
“We will show all those who have become disconnected from us or disillusioned with politics, that the SDLP can again deliver for them.”
The Dublin-born politician, who has quickly risen through the ranks of the party, is tipped as a strong challenger to the leadership front-runners, Alasdair McDonnell and Patsy McGlone.
He and Social Development Minister Alex Attwood will be vying for the younger SDLP votes. Patsy McGlone, current deputy leader of the party, has secured nominations from 10 branches across Northern Ireland, the highest of any candidate for the contest and is widely seen as the favourite.
Mr McDevitt continued: “We won’t just appeal to them with rhetoric. We will show that we can actually deliver for people.”
He hinted that going into opposition may be on the cards if he was given the job.
“We have to develop a new system of government – one that ensures parties will be working together in the public’s best interests, not their own.”