SDLP Youth

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SDLP Youth
Chairperson Cliona McCarney
Vice-Chairperson Gerard McDonald
Headquarters Belfast, Northern Ireland
Ideology Social democracy
Irish nationalism
Mother party SDLP
International affiliation International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) (observer)
European affiliation Young European Socialists (YES)

SDLP Youth is the youth wing of the Northern Irish political party the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). It is organised throughout Northern Ireland and plays an active role within the SDLP at all levels of the organisation.

It consists of party members aged 30 and under and is entitled to representation on the Party's Executive Committee. Among its membership, it includes councillors and party officers.

It has particularly strong international ties with sister organisations such as JUSOS in Germany through Young European Socialists and International Union of Socialist Youth.

The 2012 SDLP Youth Annual Conference was held on the 13 and 14 April in St Paul's Parish Centre, Falls Road, West Belfast, on the 20th anniversary of the election of Joe Hendron as MP for the area.

The 2013 SDLP Youth Annual Conference was held on the 26 and 27 April in Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Derry~Londonderry, the 2013 UK City of Culture.

The current National Youth Executive was elected at the 2014 SDLP Youth Annual Conference on the 25 and 26 April in the Ballymac Hotel, Lisburn.

SDLP National Youth Executive[edit]

  • TBC - Chair
  • Caoimhe McNeill - Vice Chair/ Campaigns Officer
  • TBC - Secretary/ PRO
  • TBC - Treasurer
  • Brendan Corr - Policy Officer
  • Shannon Downey - Membership and Recruitment Officer
  • Fiona Montgomery - Equality Officer


SDLP Youth consists of various branches in each county in Northern Ireland along with several university branches all across Ireland. Each branch is active locally and is directed by individual officer boards, each branch officer board then reports to the main executive committee who organise campaigns on a larger scale across the organisation.


Campaigns include:

  • One President, One Island, One Vote- aimed at securing a vote for northern residents in Irish Presidential elections
  • Working to abolish the political protocol at the University of Ulster which bans political organisation on campus
  • Opposition to university fees
  • Student Safety & Welfare
  • Fairtrade Further
  • Anti-Slave Labour
  • Workers' Rights
  • Supporting the Irish Language
  • Opposition to cluster munitions
  • Removal of the blanket ban on MSM blood donations
  • Emigration shouldn't have to be an option
  • Jobs For Our Generation
  • Lobbying against payday loan companies and the crippling interest rates they charge
  • Mitigating against the harsh impacts of the welfare cuts in Northern Ireland
  • Calling for the DSD Minister to halt the abolishment of the Housing Executive

Former party Leader Mark Durkan MP commended SDLP Youth in his speech to SDLP Party Conference 2009 for running a lively campaign against cluster munitions - including "a striking YouTube video". He said, "Today I want to particularly commend SDLP Youth. While Ógra Shinn Féin glorify atrocities in our country, young SDLP members put their commitment into stopping atrocities in other countries.[1]"

Past activities have included a campaign urging the closure of the Sellafield Nuclear Power Station in Cumbria, and a campaign called One Island, One Currency urging greater acceptance of the euro in Northern Ireland, through the establishment of a dual currency zone.

Whilst choosing to endorse Margaret Ritchie in the February 2010 Contest for the SDLP Leadership, SDLP Youth chose to remain neutral in the 2011 race for the Leadership of the Party.

In April 2012, SDLP Youth demonstrated the strength of its revival in recent years by hosting its first Conference in over three years. The Conference was held in West Belfast on the 20th anniversary of Joe Hendron's election as MP for the area. Guest speakers included SDLP Party Leader Alasdair McDonnell, Deputy Leader Dolores Kelly, Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Deputy Leader John McCallister and former MP Joe Hendron.

The conference was attended by over 100 young people from all across the island of Ireland as well as numerous elected SDLP representatives and visiting members of political parties from the Republic of Ireland. The Conference also consisted of two panel discussions entitled "Re-engaging Young People in Politics- Is Social Media the Way Forward?" and the theme of the Conference- "A New Generation for a New Ireland".

In April 2012, SDLP Youth also organised and took part in a charity football match in aid of Chest, Heart and Stroke NI with the Ulster Unionist Party's youth group, the Young Unionists. The event was organised to mark 14 years since the respective parties played a key role in the creation of the Good Friday Agreement.

In Summer 2012 another, larger football tournament was organised between the youth groups of SDLP, UUP, Alliance and Sinn Féin. The tournament was held at Crusaders FC football ground "Seaview". It was a resounding success and over £700 worth of money was raised for PIPS Suicide Awareness charity.

Ahead of SDLP Youth Annual Conference 2013, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz sent his best wishes and words of encouragement to the group. In his letter, he touched upon the importance of the Good Friday Agreement in the lives of the people of Northern Ireland and how relevant young people were in the continued work on its legacy of a lasting and prosperous peace.

SDLP Youth participated in a cross-party political youth debate in Belfast City Hall, where representatives from each main political youth wing debated youth unemployment, welfare reform and a shared city of Belfast. Each party had 8 speakers and the SDLP team included Martin McAuley, Conal Browne, Cliona McCarney, Rachel Powell, Ruaidhri O'Donnell, Seamas DeFaoite, Ben Niblock and Brian Watters. The event was a great success and the planning for a second debate is already in the works.

Former SDLP Youth Equality Officer Rachel Powell is currently undertaking a prestigious internship in Washington DC - as part of the Washington Ireland Programme. Rachel is interning with a Democratic Congressman on Capitol Hill. Washington Ireland Programme alumni have gone on to become MLA's and make a significant contribution to society.

Former Chairs[edit]

  • Cliona McCarney (2014)
  • Conor McNeill (2012-2014)
  • Andy Doherty (2011-2012)
  • Eamon McAuley (2010-2011)
  • Matthew McDermott (2009-2010)
  • Peter Armstrong (2008-2009)
  • Gary McKeown (2007-2008)
  • Claire Hanna (February–April 2007)
  • John O'Doherty (2005-2007)
  • Thomas O'Hanlon (2004-2005)
  • Mealla Bratton (2001-2004)


  • Ronan McKay (1998-1999)


  • Gemma Attwood
  • Joleen Cunningham
  • Eilis Haughey
  • Mickey McKernan
  • Joanne Murphy


External links[edit]