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Colum Eastwood doesn't rule out Mark Durkan contesting Foyle seat again on SDLP ticket

Colum Eastwood said the 'door is open' to Mark Durkan. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire

COLUM Eastwood has not ruled out former party leader Mark Durkan standing as an SDLP candidate in future Westminster elections.

The SDLP leader said the "door is open" to his predecessor, who on Monday shocked party members by announcing plans to contest the European election for Fine Gael.

Mr Durkan, who lost the Foyle seat to Sinn Féin in 2017 by 169 votes, is standing as a candidate in the Dublin constituency in May's election.

Mr Eastwood said the former MP "had been missed from frontline politics and missed from Westminster".

Responding to speculation that Mr Durkan's decision to stand for Fine Gael meant he was unlikely to run again for the SDLP in Foyle, Mr Eastwood said: "The door is open of course - the only Derry accent we hear in Westminster is Gregory Campbell's. I don't think anybody in Derry is happy with that."

Mr Eastwood said he was confident the party could regain the seat in any future elections.

"We don't have to make that decision yet, we hadn't made the decision, and there is no election, when there is we will announce a candidate and I think we will win the seat back," he told BBC Radio Foyle.

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