The selection of yet another graduate from the SDLP Youth team to fight the Westminster Election is both welcome and interesting.
A declaration of interest here. I know and like Malachy Quinn. I first met him during the 2011 Assembly Campaign (a hustings event). And in July 2011, he was a contributor in a SDLP-UUP Debate on the GAA and Orange Order. Indeed after that event in East Belfast UUP building, he drove me to to the train station. So I have always been impressed that he was one of the leading figures within the SDLP Youth Group. I suppose the real test of a young politician is that you forget they are young. If you listen to a speech and think “that was good” instead of “that was good…for a youngster” then the politician has a certain talent that needs to be nurtured.
I wrote last week that this was the moment that the SDLP Youth needed to be given its head and take a leading role in the Westminster Campaign. I am therefore delighted that Malachy was chosen last night to represent the SDLP in Mid Ulster. It is a great choice.
Malachy is already a councillor, elected last year for theTorrent (Coalisland) DEA to the new Mid Ulster “Super Council”. He was on the SDLP platform that read thru the Collusion Report (of the Pat Finnucane Centre)….two Coalisland SDLP members, Mr and Mrs Devlin were murdered by rogue UDR elements. And already pioneered Living Wage acceptance thru the new Mid Ulster District Council.
There is however a lazy narrative that SDLP is male and elderly. Last years Council Elections went some way to disproving it with around forty per cent of elected SDLP councillors being women.
Sinn Féin, of course dont go to Westminster if elected but it increasingly looks like a retirement home for SF MLAs who are being sidelined.
So Malachy Quinn is I guess about 28 years old. But in Mid Ulster, he takes on Francie Molloy (Sinn Fein 64). In Armagh-Newry, Justin McNulty (39) takes on Mickey Brady (Sinn Féin 63) and in West Tyrone, Daniel Wray McCrossan (26) takes on Pat Doherty (Sinn Féin 70).
So I wish my friend well in Mid Ulster. Malachy has only one flaw….he supports ….Liverpool.