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SDLP grandees divided over leader choice

The voting preferences of a few SDLP grandees emerged at their conference.

Seamus Mallon backed Patsy McGlone, Brid Rodgers sported a Conal McDevitt badge and outgoing leader Margaret Ritchie gave her support to Alex Attwood — as did her mentor Eddie McGrady and elder statesman Sean Farren.

Ms Ritchie set the trend, but Liam Logan appeared to be the only SDLP delegate sporting a poppy at the party’s annual conference.

Mr Logan, a speaker of Ulster-Scots, was with the majority in the leadership stakes, though — he backed Alasdair McDonnell on the grounds that “he must have a bit of Ulster-Scots blood in him”.

The happiest woman at the Ramada — where the bash was held — may well have been Dolores Kelly, the Upper Bann MLA, who was returned as deputy leader unopposed.

“This is the sort of election I like,” she quipped, adding that she would support whoever won the leadership.

SDLP founder Austin Currie told a fringe meeting that in 1970 the party was almost named the Labour and Social Democratic Party until Paddy Devlin pointed out that LSD stood for pounds, shillings and pence in old money.

The LSD drug connotation passed the meeting by, but one other member pointed out that the Russian SDLP had boasted Stalin as a member.

Belfast Telegraph