SDLP leader tells McNulty ‘I won’t accept 50%’ from his MLAs

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP.SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP.
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood says the door of the SDLP remains open to suspended Newry & Armagh MLA Justin McNulty.

Mr McNulty had the party whip removed after he left Saturday’s sitting of the Assembly early to manage Laois in their National League game against Wexford.

As a result he missed his party colleague, Matthew O’Toole, being named Leader of the Opposition.

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An All-Ireland winner with Armagh, Mr McNulty was appointed Laois manager in October when the Assembly was not sitting.

His party leader says the two roles are not compatible.

Asked about the issue at Stormont on Monday, Mr Eastwood said an internal disciplinary party procedure will take place.

“I expect 100% from all my MLAs, I won’t accept 50% from one of them but we’re very clear the door is open for Justin to come back in if he wants, we’ve made a very generous offer to him but that’s on him and we’re ready and willing to listen,” he said.

Pressed on what the offer consisted of, Mr Eastwood responded: “That’s a conversation we have internally and we’ll continue to have that conversation if Justin is up for it.

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“I can’t make people do things they don’t want to do but all I can say is this, the SDLP is very clear, being an MLA in this place, particularly now the assembly is back up and running, is a full-time job, and I don’t think our constituents would expect anything less.

“As I’ve said from the very beginning of this process, the two positions aren’t compatible.”