Belfast Telegraph

SDLP selects Ex-Downing Street adviser Matthew O'Toole as South Belfast MLA

Matthew O'Toole with Claire Hanna and Colum Eastwood
Matthew O'Toole with Claire Hanna and Colum Eastwood

Eimear McGovern

Former Downing Street adviser Matthew O'Toole has been selected to replace the SDLP's Claire Hanna as MLA for South Belfast.

Mr O'Toole, who is from Downpatrick, has worked as a political commentator and for the communications agency Powerscourt as well as for the Treasury.

He takes up the role after Ms Hanna was elected as an MP in December, unseating the DUP's Emma Little-Pengelly.

“I’m delighted to be asked to serve the people of south Belfast at this critical moment,” he said.

“The absence of power sharing has put immense pressure on public services, especially the health service, which is felt acutely in places like south Belfast.

“Brexit has also made Northern Ireland immensely vulnerable and been damaging to community relations. The election to Westminster of progressive, remain voices like Colum [Eastwood] and Claire [Hanna] is good news, and I want to do my part in defending Northern Ireland from the effects of Brexit.”

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP said he was delighted to announce Mr O’Toole as a party representative.

“With a strong background in economic policy, having worked across government and the private sector, Matthew brings an immense amount of experience that will be critical to our efforts to rebalance Northern Ireland’s economy, attract new jobs and defend people here from the impact of Brexit,” he said.

South Belfast MP Claire Hanna said she was looking forward to working with Mr O’Toole in the constituency.

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