Co Tyrone SDLP councillor Rosemarie Shields has confirmed she is defecting to a new political party and will stand in May’s local government elections.
Ms Shields said she personally knows some SDLP members and those “from another party” who are also considering moving to the new republican party being set up by former Sinn Fein TD Peadar Toibin.
“There is a lot of interest from party members generally and elected representatives,” she told the News Letter.
She was attracted by the party’s emphasis on “economic justice” in a time when she said most other parties appeared to have become “right of centre”.
“I also respect the fact that Peadar is a person of honesty and integrity which is sadly missing in politics today,” he added.
The new party’s pro-life position was also a significant factor for her.
An SDLP Spokesperson commented: “The timing of councillor Shields’ announcement is interesting given that the party is in the process of selecting candidates for the council elections.
“Councillor Shield’s lack of commitment to her role has been a matter of concern for some time now and that would obviously have been a factor in the party’s decision on whether to run her as a candidate again or not. We wish Rosemarie all the best.”
But Ms Shields hit back that the SDLP has not yet selected any candidates for the local government election in that area.
“I was dedicated to my role as a public representative,” she said. “Although it is notable that the SDLP has lost four councillors in Strabane and Omagh in recent times.”
She the put the loss of seats down to senior management in the party.