Newry SDLP in turmoil after Councillor McAteer resigns

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Friday, April 3rd, 2015
Community, News, Politics
Newry-Times-exclusive The local branch of the SDLP is in turmoil today after one of its newly elected Councillors resigned from the party.
Councillor Kevin McAteer has resigned from Newry SDLP

Councillor Kevin McAteer has resigned from Newry SDLP

28 year old Newry City Councillor Kevin McAteer today declared that he will resign from the SDLP, effective immediately, and stand as an Independent. Speaking exclusively to Newry Times, Councillor McAteer, who was elected back in May 2014 but only officially started his role on the new Newry, Mourne and Down Council recently, insisted the move will be welcomed by the public. Speaking about his decision to resign, McAteer said he had grown increasingly frustrated with party politics. “It seems that the SDLP and all parties are more concerned with political point scoring rather than dealing with the issues.” McAteer cited the huge rally in Newry last weekend to save Stroke Services at Daisy Hill Hospital, which attracted thousands, as further evidence of the ‘obsession of political parties to hijack issues’ for their own agendas. “For the SDLP and other political parties the recent Daisy Hill rally was more about getting their own posters and banners littered along the route of the march,” he told Newry Times.
“I witnessed both political parties [SDLP and Sinn Fein] disgustingly rush to try and beat each other to lead the demonstration. I was embarrassed to be representing the SDLP.”
McAteer said a huge rally in Newry last weekend to save Stroke Services at Daisy Hill Hospital was hijacked by the SDLP and Sinn Fein

McAteer said a huge rally in Newry last weekend to save Stroke Services at Daisy Hill Hospital was hijacked by the SDLP and Sinn Fein

The Derrybeg native says that at a public meeting prior to the rally all parties agreed to make the rally non–political. “Both parties have essentially lied to the people and used the rally for their own political gain. It was a shameful attempt at electioneering and I will have no part in it.” The Daisy Hill Hospital rally might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for Kevin, but he says he had a lot of disagreements with the SDLP. Councillor McAteer, a member of the Newry SDLP branch for over 5 years, says he felt unappreciated within the party. “I mentioned that the signs [for the Daisy Hill Hospital rally] would be a bad idea and whilst I defended the SDLP at the rally saying they didn’t have one I was shocked to see they had a banner. “They could listen to their councillors for a start and treat them with a little bit of respect. The hierarchy have a habit of not listening to their councillors and making decisions without getting the opinion of some of their councillors,” he insisted. He says he also felt ‘censored’ by the SDLP at times. “If I felt passionately about an issue I couldn’t just speak with local newspapers and give my opinion; I had to send my comments through to the SDLP Press Office, who edited and amended my opinion to suit their own agenda.
“What is the point in being a Councillor if you can’t have an opinion? Towing the party line is expected at all times, regardless of whether you’re saying or doing something for the benefit of local people.”
Councillor McAteer refused to be pictured in front of the SDLP banner

Councillor McAteer refused to be pictured in front of the SDLP banner

Councillor McAteer says he has become totally disenfranchised with political parties, reiterating his belief that they have ‘lost sight of the fact that politics is not about the party, it’s about people’. “Recently the parties are happy to use the plight of the working class for their own political gain. Two examples have occurred recently; the Daisy Hill rally and also the public sector strike. “Stormont is happy to implement public sector cuts that are going to cost jobs but when the strike occurs the politicians flock to the picket line to get a photo to pretend to the people that they care. “It’s a smoke and mirrors stunt designed to fool the electorate into thinking that the parties actually give a damn but, since there is an election looming, I expect nothing more from them.” As of today, McAteer is an Independent Councillor and will no longer rely on the party’s political machine to get his message across or ‘censor’ his words. Life as an Independent Councillor can be a lonely and awkward position but he says his fresh start will allow him to serve the people to the best of his ability, without the shackles of having to conform to party policy or towing the party line.
And with four more years ahead as an Independent, the 28 year old Councillor says his vision and brand of local politics is not about the political parties, it is about the people. “I will not be dragged into playing petty political games at the expense of the public, the people deserve better than that; they are more important than any political party. He added, “What I stand for is simple, I am anti-austerity, pro trade union, an advocate of gay rights, worker’s rights and protecting our services in Daisy Hill Hospital.” More on this story: Newry SDLP ‘shocked and disappointed’ at McAteer decision

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4 Comments for “Newry SDLP in turmoil after Councillor McAteer resigns”

  1. charlie casey

    Wonder will he still call Raymond Mc Creesh a terrorist.

  2. micky b

    northern ireland politics is a joke fair play kevin.

  3. Well done Kevin, with those principals you will get my vote any time. I wish you luck.

  4. martin mckeown

    Well done Kevin! Nice to see a politician with principles and backbone. It would be much easier to conform and toe the party line like most of the sycophants who sit at stormont and the various councils throughout the north. As for Charlie Casey’s comment about calling Raymond Mc Creesh a terrorist, when has Kevin Mcateer said such a thing? You are an absolute liar and a disgrace for using Raymond’s sacrifice and suffering to gain an advantage over a political opponent. Is there nothing sacred anymore ? Shame on you Charlie Casey!

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