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Bookies back Eastwood for SDLP leadership

Colm Eastwood at the recent launch of his bid for leadership of the SDLP. Picture by Declan Roughan

IRELAND'S largest bookmaker has Colum Eastwood as a strong favourite to be the next leader of the SDLP.

Alasdair McDonnell's bid to remain leader has suffered a major psychological blow with Paddy Power pricing his rival Mr Eastwood as odds-on favourite.

The 32-year-old Foyle MLA is 1-4 favourite to become the sixth leader of the party.

Mr Eastwood has received the backing of party grandees, including one-time Stormont Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon.

Earlier this week, Dr McDonnell said he was confident of victory on November 14.

"I won the leadership by a handful of votes and I will win it again by a bigger handful of votes," he said.

But the bookies disagree, with Paddy Power making the 66-year-old former GP the 5/2 outsider.

A Paddy Power spokesman said it felt there had been a number of incidents which had "highlighted an increasing lack of support for McDonnell".

"We get the impression that his time is drawing to a close and it’s hard to bounce back from that in politics – not impossible, but it makes it harder for him to hang on," he said.

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