Archive for September 8th, 2010

The origins of the SDLP

8 September 2010

Contributed by Sarah Campbell

The 40th anniversary of the party that once spoke for the minority in Northern Ireland failed to inspire any editorials or features in the Irish national press in recent weeks.* A party in decline, it appears it has already been resigned to the scrapheap of history. Born exactly 40 years ago and sired by the 1968 generation of Northern Catholics who put rights before the republic, the SDLP’s conception can be traced to the early 1960s, when the idea of setting up a party like it began germinating in the Northern nationalist consciousness.

By 1964 there was an agreement in principle and a year later, the National Democratic Party was formed and was holding annual conferences. Shortly after, the civil rights movement (NICRA) revolutionised Northern Catholics and it was in civil rights issues that many of the founding members of the SDLP cut their teeth in politics. But was the SDLP, as it claimed, a party of civil rights?

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