Political news

SDLP to launch 'grassroots rebuild'

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood
Connla Young


THE SDLP is launching a ‘grassroots rebuild’ strategy in a bid to revive the party.

The overhaul includes plans to reshape structures at ground level across the north.

A disastrous Westminster election last month saw the SDLP lose all three of its seats.

The 'grassroots' plan was agreed at a recent meeting of the party’s executive and revealed to members in a letter understood to have been signed by SDLP chairman Ronan McCay.

A copy of the document, leaked to The Irish News, reveals that party leader Colum Eastwood is set to appoint 11 convenors - one for each district council in the north.

“The convenors will co-ordinate party renewal across that footprint,” the email states.

SDLP sources have told The Irish News that the numbers of people taking out membership in some areas across the north has dropped in recent years.

In a bid to rejuvenate the party each district electoral area (DEA) will have a ‘grassroots leader’ drawn from that area “who will drive forward renewal in that specific area alone”.

“These leaders will be responsible for mobilising members for weekly doorstep canvassing and database updates, local campaigning, membership recruitment etc,” the letter says.

The document says they will be supported by "co-ordinators for voter engagement".

Mr McCay said: “It is vital that we get to work at the very local level, building ourselves up as dynamic grassroots campaigning force.

“We have seen before that talking about getting organised does not equate to actually getting organised, so the time for talking is long since over.”

He also revealed that party officials are working on what he described as the “core party message/vision” and that Mr Eastwood is planning to hold a series of “engagement meetings” for members.

“We will only succeed when we embrace party renewal on both these fronts - high-level vision and grassroots action," he said.

“I have no doubt that we can get there, so let’s get on with it.

“And let’s work as one - respectful of each other, of the party’s proud heritage and of the future we can build together.”

The SDLP declined to comment yesterday.

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