Belfast Telegraph

SDLP responds after councillor defects to ex-Sinn Fein man's new party

Peadar Toibin
Peadar Toibin

The SDLP has suggested one of its councillors may not have been selected to run in this year's local government elections after she announced her defection to a new party set up by ex-Sinn Fein TD Peadar Toibin.

Fermanagh and Omagh Councillor Rosemarie Shields becomes the party's first elected representative in Northern Ireland.

Mr Toibin set up the party last year after leaving Sinn Fein due to feeling ostracised due to his views on abortion.

Responding to Councillor Shields departure, an SDLP spokesperson said that the timing was "interesting given that the party is in the process of selecting candidates for the council elections".

"We wish Rosemarie all the best," the spokesperson added.

Councillor Shields told the Irish News that there is "deep unhappiness and frustration developing within the SDLP in the north of Ireland".

“For years Fianna Fail have talked about representing people in the north of Ireland in councils and in Stormont. For years people in the SDLP have waited in limbo.

“As a result the SDLP has become rudderless and are in a state of decay.”

She suggested she may not be the last SDLP member to leave the party.

“Many within my old political organisation have been shocked by the 180 degree u-turn that the leadership of Fianna Fail and the SDLP have made on issues such as the right to life in the last number of months," Councillor Shields said.

She admitted it had been "a tough decision to separate from many of my old colleagues".

“However, I have a funny feeling that our separation may not last too long and that many more will join me,” she said.

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