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Newly elected Dolores's story shows how committed our public representatives are to serving their constituents

Editor's viewpoint

Veteran SDLP politician Dolores Kelly was one of the stories of last week's Assembly elections, regaining the seat which she had lost last May.

Her defeat last year had been a very chastening experience for the woman who has spent 22 years in public life.

In echoes of comments made by the UUP's Jo-Anne Dobson after losing her seat last week, she recalls how it left a huge void in her life. Suddenly nobody wanted her to help them any more.

However, things have changed completely as Dolores tells how she left Mass last Sunday with an armful of issues which her constituents want her to deal with.

It is easy to criticise our politicians at times, but her story shows the efforts public representatives put into serving their constituents, often being on call 24 hours a day to deal with emergencies.

And it also reveals how public life can be a tough job as she had to withstand smears during the election over her rightful severance payments after previously losing her seat.

Her return to Stormont was one of the reasons why the SDLP managed to retain its 12 seats in the Assembly.

While the natural focus was on the gains made by Sinn Fein, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood can feel satisfied at the outcome of an election which saw his party become the third largest after the implosion of the UUP.

It shows that there is a sizeable constitutional nationalist constituency remaining even in the most polarised of campaigns and that must be encouraging for a party whose demise has been long heralded.

While it had little time to make any real impact in opposition in the last Assembly, it will be interesting to see if the SDLP decides to return to that role or if it decides to demand a place at the Executive table.

But for Dolores the issue is more straightforward. She is back doing what she has done for a large part of her life, tackling those day-to-day problems which most exercise the public.

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