It has always amused me that several members of the Alliance Party and a former prominent journalist thougt that I was Brian Feeney……..a notion that I did little to discourage for several months.
I briefly met Brian a few times in the 1970s when he was a prominent member of the SDLP and I was a very lowly member of the same Party. I have not spoken t him in over thirty years. Yet perhaps he is the most prominent “lost sheep” that the SDLP should be attracting back to the flock……….Having voted Sinn Fein for around fifteen years, I am already back in the flock.
Some of Brian Feeney’s recent commentaries in the Irish News and television appearances have indicated a softening in his line towards the SDLP. Notably on “Hearts and Minds” on Thursday, he was critical of Sinn Féins failure to bring on young talent (such as Daithí McKay) and a lack of the talent they have in the Republic (such as Pearse Doherty and Mary Lou McDonald) and commented favourably on SDLP young talent such as Colum Eastwood and the impressive Belfast councillor Nichola Mallon.
This seemed to be just the latest in a line of commentary which was sympathetic to SDLP.
Obviously Brian Feeney is a working commentator and may not be entirely happy about re-engaging with SDLP. Unlike me…he has some baggage. No doubt he has good and bad relationships with senior SDLP figures. That would certainly be my assumption. But its eems to be that Brian Feeney is the kind of voice to whom the SDLP should be listening. He has his finger on the pulse of mainstream nationalist thinking.
The SDLP seems to be a political party with whom Brian Feeney still identifies ……but obviously I do not know how to quantify that support.
Brian Feeney deserves a platform in the ongoing discussions SDLP is having…..he is at least more sympathetic to the philosophy of SDLP than Duncan Morrow, Rev Norman Hamilton, “journalist” Davey Adams (Davey Adams for Gods sake!!!!)…voices which have been heard on SDLP platforms.