Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019: SDLP's Colum Eastwood will stand for Westminster Foyle seat

SDLP Party leader Colum Eastwood pictured at the press conference in Derry on Wednesday. Picture Martin McKeown. 30.10.19
SDLP Party leader Colum Eastwood pictured at the press conference in Derry on Wednesday. Picture Martin McKeown. 30.10.19

By Eimear McGovern

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has said he will challenge Sinn Fein for the Westminster seat in Foyle.

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Mr Eastwood said that Brexit is a national emergency that poses an unacceptable risk to the interests of this island and particularly to Londonderry.

Speaking at a press conference outside the Playhouse theatre in the city, he said change is made by people who turn up.

"Brexit... threatens people, businesses and communities across this island, but particularly in Derry where travelling across the border for work, to visit family or to socialise is a basic part of our lives."

"We know the scale of the challenge we’re facing. The time for talking is now over, now it’s time to take control of our own future, stand up for ourselves and vote Boris Johnson’s Brexit down.

"This is a time for leadership. I understand that when the stakes are this high, you have to be prepared to take on the uncomfortable and the unprecedented.

"This is a defining election. It is a moment of choice and a moment for change. I am not content to continue with the direction of travel. I will not sit idly by as our interests are undermined. Brexit can be stopped at Westminster. SDLP MPs will vote to stop Brexit."

The current Foyle MP Elisha McCallion was selected by Sinn Fein in September to contest the seat.

She was first elected as MP in 2017, taking the seat from the former SDLP MP Mark Durkan by 169 votes.

Mr Durkan succeeded Nobel Laureate John Hume in taking the seat, which had been held by the SDLP for the previous 34 years.

"I'm a proud abstentionist MP," said Ms McCallion, speaking to the BBC.

"I have never seen a case where any nationalist MP has made a difference to any vote in Westminster especially now at a time when the British government won't even allow their own people to have a say on Brexit," she said.

"If anything, the behaviour of the current British government has vindicated Sinn Fein's abstentionist policy."

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