Fun and games amongst the SDLP over…yes, gay marriage!
There have been calls for the SDLP to clarify its position after a South Belfast MLA said the party was fully behind a change in the law to legalise same-sex marriage. But shy retiring media averse Conall McDevitt was accused of overstepping the mark during a debate this week.
During the Belfast Pride Talks Back event, Mr McDevitt said his party was “100%” behind moves to permit gay marriage — but went further and claimed two veteran councillors would be disciplined over their opposition to it. He was referring to former Belfast Lord Mayors Pat McCarthy and Pat Convery, who refused to take part in a vote on the issue at the City Hall last month. Mr McDevitt’s comments sparked outrage in the party.
As vice chair of the SDLP executive, Mr Convery is more senior in the party than Mr McDevitt. One veteran party source said gay marriage was causing division within the SDLP. “The issue of supporting gay marriage is not party policy,” he said. “It never went before the party conference and has never been discussed by the party executive. “Conall McDevitt was totally out of order saying that we are 100% behind this and he knows it.”
Yes, but Conal just lurves publicity and trailing his liberal instincts across the ever obliging media is an essential part of his role in local politics. I would have thought that the SDLP, and the other Parties here, have MANY other issues to concern themselves with – but Gay Marriage seems to be the only engagement that they fancy!