Claire Hanna is new SDLP South Belfast MLA

Claire Hanna replaces SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell who resigned as MLA last weekend
Claire Hanna replaces SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell who resigned as MLA last weekend

Claire Hanna has been selected by the SDLP to replace party leader Alasdair McDonnell at Stormont.

Ms Hanna, who is a councillor for the Balmoral area of Belfast, has also been confirmed as the party’s choice to defend the South Belfast Assembly seat at next year’s election.

The selection was approved by SDLP members at a meeting on Wednesday night.

Dr McDonnell announced his resignation as an MLA last Sunday but will continue in his role as MP for South Belfast.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Hanna said she was “deeply grateful” for the endorsement, and added: “As I have in council, I will be standing up for the diversity of south Belfast, for excellence in public services, a strong and sustainable local economy and for core SDLP values of partnership, reconciliation and social justice.”

At the same meeting, Fearghal McKinney MLA was also ratified as the second SDLP candidate for South Belfast in the 2016 election.