Dolores Kelly is the Deputy Leader of the SDLP, the Party of which I am a member. She is also the sole SDLP MLA in my constituency.
Being Deputy Leader of the Party suggests #2 in the Party hierarchy In fact she is a long way down it.
Alasdair McDonnell, Conall McDevitt, Patsy McGlone and Alex Attwood, who contested the Leadership in 2011, all outranked her. So do the Party’s MPs Margaret Ritchie and Mark Durkan, both former Leaders.
Mark’s nephew, confusingly Mark H Durkan is the new Minister for the Environment and Joe Byrne a delegate to the Haass talks is also further up the ladder. Alex Attwood is the candidate for Europe. Karen McKevitt, the party’s only other MLA is assistant to Mark H.
Of course, Conall is now out of Politics but that has only made Dolores position weaker. The new MLA, Fergus McKinney is a key advisor to Alasdair.
Dolores does of course have friends in the Party, not least in the Womens Group but she has managed to weaken it by agreeing to be a judge for Miss Ulster last weekend. Thankfully she had the sense to pull out of this “personality” pageant when it was pointed out that the women would all be aged 18-24, have a dress size between 8 and 14 (or whatever) and all be above 5ft 7inches.
How all of that is a requirement for PERSONALITY, I just dont understand. Nor will the SDLP Womens Group like Brenda Stevenson, Bernie Kelly, Claire Hanna and Sharon Haughey have been impressed.
Dolores defence seems to be based on the fact she did not know about the entry requirements. Can she really have been a judge in 2011??? I dont know…maybe she thought she was selecting a very personable basketball team.
Whether or not she was a judge in 2011…it still displays appalling judgement.
The Media have generally portrayed Dolores as a disloyal Deputy Leader. I would expect this display of bad judgement will ensure Dolores faces a challenge for Deputy Leadership (from Colm Eastwood?) in 2014. She can hardly play the Womens Card.
More likely the contest will be between Colm and Alex Attwood, possibly buoyed by his performance in European Elections.