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Alban Maginness

Despite all the doubters down the years, the demise of SDLP has been greatly exaggerated

Alban Maginness


The party has a talented team with massive potential which can attract greater support.

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John Hume, Gerry Fitt, Austin Currie and Paddy Devlin in 1975

John Hume, Gerry Fitt, Austin Currie and Paddy Devlin in 1975

John Hume, Gerry Fitt, Austin Currie and Paddy Devlin in 1975

Sadly neither John Hume, nor Seamus Mallon lived just long enough to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of their creation the Social Democratic and Labour Party. That foundation in 1970 changed politics forever on the island of Ireland.

In his political biography entitled: All Hell Will Break Loose, Austin Currie one of six Stormont MPs (and Senator Paddy Wilson, murdered by the UFF in 1973 ) who founded the party, amusingly recalled, that the SDLP was probably the only party anywhere born on a radio programme.

He explained, that although discussions had successfully proceeded through the summer of 1970 , there was a serious hold-up of the launch of the party due to a failure to agree its leader. The choice was between Gerry Fitt, a Westminster MP and John Hume, the uncrowned leader of the civil rights movement. Austin Currie resolved the dilemma by stating on RTE radio, that: "The only person with the necessary experience and ability is Gerry Fitt."