Tuesday, February 27, 2007

SDLP Manifesto for Change Launched

The SDLP has launched its manifesto for the elections on March 7th, available to read online. Unique in its scope and detail, the Manifesto sets out the Party's policies for unlocking the North's potential and giving our hardworking families the real progress they deserve.

Lagan Valley candidate Marietta Farrell, pictured above, set out the Party's proposals on affordable housing and combatting spiralling household bills.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Candidates Officially Launched

The campaign has been underway for a few weeks now, but the candidates were only officially launched today. Belfast's The Edge was the venue for the official unveiling of 35 candidates across all 18 constituencies.

The candidate team is the best mix of gender, geography and generation we have seen in Northern politics.

Childcare Comes First

SDLP candidate for Mid-Ulster Kate Lagan was promoting the Party's strategy on childcare yesterday at the Kidz Lodge in Magherafelt. Kate got a very positive reception as she outlined the Party's belief that working families shouldn't have to choose between working full time to pay for quality childcare and walking away from a livelihood.

Kate is pictured above spending time with the tiny tots of Kidz Lodge, Magherafelt.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Assembly Can Make Difference on Housing

The average house in the North of Ireland is now £9,000 more than the average house in Britain. This is despite the fact that salaries remain considerably lower. In the meantime, British direct rule Ministers do nothing. Party Deputy Leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell MP today launched the party's strategy on tackling both housing affordability and the need for social housing.

He's pictured above with two first time buyers in the Lower Ormeau area, Chris and Louise.

SDLP Election Broadcast a Hit

Party Leader Mark Durkan MP (pictured above keeping touch with the campaign team) was on hand yesterday to launch the Party's Party Election Broadcast. The broadcast, which can be viewed here (coming to YouTube soon) features a range of people from around the North talking about their frustrations with politics here and why they believe that a stronger SDLP is the only way to unlock things and deliver real progress.

Feedback has been excellent.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Spreading the Love...

Happy Valentines Day bloggers. We hope that all our loyal voters got what they were expecting this morning from loved ones. Commuters coming through the Europa Bus and Train station earlier got a surprise Valentines greeting from the campaign team who were distributing special edition cards. They were asked to help us kiss Direct Rule goodbye.

Marietta Farrell, the candidate for Lagan Valley is pictured above with a young commuter.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

SDLP Women are Record Breakers

Today we unveiled our record breaking number of female candidates for the upcoming Assembly election. With 14 out of 34 candidates, the SDLP is running a higher proportion of female candidates than any mainstream Irish party, north or south, ever.

Female candidates are going to be key to the SDLP holding and winning a number of target seats. In Lagan Valley, Marietta Farrell is the only female candidate in the field, while in Newry & Armagh Cllr Sharon Haughey looks set to recover the SDLP's second seat.

Alternative captions for today's photo are welcome...

Saving Lives and Livelihoods

Fishing communities are an important part of the fabric of the rural North, especially in South Down and the Party has put a lot of thought into its policy proposals for saving the lives and livelihoods of fishermen.

On Saturday, SDLP MLA Margaret Ritchie was meeting with fishermen and discussing the Party's range of policies during a visit to Ardglass. She enjoyed a very warm reception, but as the photo shows, that was the only thing warm about Ardglass that morning...

Thursday, February 8, 2007

SDLP takes to the streets on PFI

Assembly candidates Carmel Hanna MLA and Margaret Walsh joined West Belfast councillor Tim Attwood yesterday in a protest against plans to fund the much needed Mother and Children Hospital through a Private Finance Initiative.

The white line picket at the Royal was organised by UNISON who predict that if plans go ahead as they currently stand, health workers will be transferred to the public sector and Contractors will pocket somewhere in the region of £35 Million per year for 25 years!

Special thanks to our photographer who narrowly avoided a trip to A&E himself.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Tribune Identifies Key Targets for SDLP

Writing in yesterday's Sunday Tribune Suzanne Breen looks around the constituencies and identifies who might be the winners and losers and where.

We agree with Suzanne when she says that "SF's third candidate might be vulnerable to rising SDLP star Sharon Haughey..." but we'll have to disagree when she says that "On balance, SF slim favourites to hold". Betting types would be well advised to put a couple of quid on Sharon to take back our second seat in Newry & Armagh.

Suzanne is also on the ball with Strangford. She writes, "Popular Portaferry chip-shop owner Joe Boyle, of the SDLP, is challenging for the Alliance seat, although he needs a high number of first preferences as transfers will be scarce in this overwhelmingly unionist constituency. The Catholic population of Carryduff and Saintfield is expanding and Boyle's profile has grown since becoming the only nationalist on Ards Council."

Durkan Rallies the Troops in Belfast

Saturday 3rd February. Party Leader Mark Durkan was on fine form today adressing candidates and election workers about the upcoming elections. In a strong performance he called on workers to get out to constituencies and fight. He said that we were in a difficult election campaign - we know it, so we should show it.

Around 300 people were introduced to the candidates and heard speeches from the local MP Alasdair McDonnell, Eddie McGrady MP and the Party Leader. Former Leader John Hume was given a standing ovation when he presented the Dan McAreavey trophy to outgoing MLA and Party Chairman Sean Farren.

All business was concluded by 1 PM when candidates returned to their contituencies 'to prepare for Government' and a gang headed to Strangford for a leaflet drop aimed at delivering Cllr Joe Boyle (pictured above with Mark) as the first ever Nationalist MLA for Strangford.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Durkan and Ahern in Dublin

Here's a clip showing a small section of An Taoiseach's comments at the launch of our North South Makes Sense economic policy in Dublin last night.

On adverts and emails...

It'll be no surprise to learn that the storm following the 'leaked email' from Hugh Orde and the public comments of some former RUC officers has kept some of us on our toes all day. We will be putting a fuller response on here soon, but in the meantime, West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood summarises the position well:

"For generations policing in the North has been vulnerable to undue political and governmental influence. In 2002 at the birth of the Policing Board the British Government were at their business again. The SDLP flatly refused to play that game and bluntly told the British Government that appointments were the exclusive responsibility of the Policing Board and exclusively a merit based decision. This government still believes that public appointments can get politically fixed. Then, as now the SDLP stands against any such approach."