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Sam McBride

For the first time in 50 years, Stormont has a nationalist leader of the opposition – but also of the government

Sam McBride


Matthew O’Toole’s announcement as SDLP leader of the opposition at Stormont is confusing, but also significant

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SDLP MLA Matthew O'Toole outside Parliament Buildings (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

SDLP MLA Matthew O'Toole outside Parliament Buildings (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

SDLP MLA Matthew O'Toole outside Parliament Buildings (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

It says much about Northern Ireland’s changed political landscape that the last time a nationalist agreed to serve as leader of the opposition in Stormont, it was in response to a reformist unionist leader whose gestures included meeting nuns and inviting the Taoiseach to Stormont.

Neither Eddie McAteer nor Terence O’Neill could have fathomed that the SDLP’s Matthew O’Toole would be leading scrutiny of an Executive whose first minister will be Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill.


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