A former Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA has called for his party leader to resign.

Richie McPhillips has called on SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood to stand down following a “very, very poor day out” for the SDLP.

Tweeting on Sunday following a disappointing election for the party, Mr. McPhillips called for a “taxi” for Mr. Eastwood.

Council elections

His comments come after the party shed councillors across Northern Ireland including three sitting councillors in Fermanagh and Omagh District Council; Mary Garrity, Paul Blake and John Coyle.

Mr. McPhillips’ son Garbhan was elected to serve Erne East at the weekend.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter yesterday (Wednesday), Mr. McPhillips expanded on his comments and reasons for calling for a change in leadership for the party.

He said: “It was to enlighten the discussion, this is not the first time, but the third time we’ve had a very, very poor day out. We lost three MPs in 2017, four MLAs last year and 20 councillors on Friday and Saturday, its not a good reference or report.”

Continuing he said: “There has been quite a bit of dissatisfaction with the ways things have been going and at the end of the day if you’re the manager of the team and things aren’t going your way, relegation is facing you in the two eyes we know what happens in the Premiership.

The way we have been going the last few years, we are far from the Premiership at the moment – we have slipped down the rating quite a lot”

“This is not just a personal or a personality situation but this is an overall addressing of the top, the culture, a lot of people out here in the West feel there is too much dictation from the top and not enough substance – it is near time that we address that.”


Mr. McPhillips, a longtime party member who has represented the party at both council level and as an MLA said: “I am very concerned in many respects because we have another election looming and I would be very concerned for his [Colum Eastwood] own seat in Foyle and Claire [Hanna] in South Belfast, if we were to repeat the results that have taken place over the last two elections it would not be good.

“It can be addressed, there is no doubt that we are in a difficult time, obviously the DUP are holding the whole place to ransom and its amazing to say that Sinn Féin are wanting to make this place work far more than the DUP at this point in time.

“It will have to addressed sooner or later or this little part of the world is going to be in serious financial difficulty and who will ultimately pay? The ordinary man and woman on the street, they are paying at the moment but they could pay heavily in the future if we don’t get our act together.”

Mr. McPhillips would not be drawn when asked if there was any individuals within the party whom he would like to be in charge.

However, he did say: “I do believe that leadership has to come from the Assembly team and it can’t come from Westminster, you need someone from the Assembly team who is able to be in the constituencies to show that the party is alive and kicking and able to represent all of the people in the North, they [the SDLP] still have a big contribution to make.”

In response an SDLP spokesperson said: “The SDLP leadership and our elected representatives are focused on our party’s renewed mission to end division and build a New Ireland that delivers better outcomes for communities across this island.”