SDLP's Claire Hanna to replace Alasdair McDonnell at Stormont
SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell has welcomed the selection of Claire Hanna to take up his seat in the Assembly after he tendered his resignation as an MLA on Sunday.
Ms Hanna is a councillor for the Balmoral area of Belfast. The councillor’s selection was approved by a meeting of South Belfast SDLP members last night where she was also selected along with Fearghal McKinney MLA to run in the 2016 Assembly election.
Dr McDonnell said: "Representing the people of South Belfast as an MLA for 17 years has been an honour and I know that Claire will serve our constituents with the same dedication and passion that she has demonstrated so often in council.
"In Claire and Fearghal we have selected the two strongest choices of any party in South Belfast. I am confident that they will be successful in retaining two seats in this constituency in 2016 and continue to provide people here with effective representation and progressive politics."
Claire Hanna said: "It has been a privilege to serve on Council since 2011 and I am deeply grateful to have been selected to continue representing the people of South Belfast in the Assembly.
“I’m committed to the challenges of defending the SDLP’s second seat in this constituency, refocusing our party and restoring public faith in local politics, which has been in decline for a number of years. As I have in council, I will be standing up for the diversity of South Belfast, for excellence in public services, a strong and sustainable local economy and for core SDLP values of partnership, reconciliation and social justice.
"The SDLP are now in a strong position to fight for South Belfast and Northern Ireland at Westminster, in the Assembly and at council. Our South Belfast representatives, Alasdair as MP and Fearghal and I as MLAs, and our councillors, Declan Boyle, John Gallen, Brian Hanvey and Kate Mullan are united in this aim."
Fearghal McKinney said: "In South Belfast our aim is to retain two seats in the upcoming election and I am honoured that my party has selected me again to represent the people of South Belfast."
Selected as SDLP MLA & to defend South Belfast in May. V grateful to party colleagues for endorsement. Excited/terrified in equal measure!— Claire Hanna (@ClaireHanna) June 25, 2015