Colum Eastwood

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Colum Eastwood
Eastwood in 2014
Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
12 May 2016
Serving with Mike Nesbitt, Naomi Long
First Minister Arlene Foster
Preceded by Position re-established
Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party
Assumed office
14 November 2015
Preceded by Alasdair McDonnell
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Foyle
Assumed office
Preceded by Pól Callaghan
Personal details
Born (1983-04-30) 30 April 1983 (age 33)
Derry, Northern Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party SDLP
Spouse(s) Rachael Eastwood
Children 1
Alma mater University of Liverpool

Colum Eastwood MLA (born 30 April 1983) is an Irish nationalist politician and leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) since 2015. He was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011, and has since been re-elected.[1]


Colum Eastwood was born in Derry. He was educated at John's Primary School in Creggan, St Columb's College and then the University of Liverpool where he studied politics. He married Rachael Parkes in December 2013 and they live in Derry.

Political career[edit]

Eastwood was elected to Derry City Council in 2005, and elected for a one-year term as Mayor of Derry in June 2010. Aged 27, he was the youngest mayor of the city to date.[2]

Following his election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in May 2011, Eastwood was appointed SDLP representative on the committee of the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister. He sits on the Northern Ireland Assembly committees on Standards and Privileges, and the Environment. He is the youngest SDLP member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.[3]

In 2012 he drew criticism from Unionists including Jim Allister after carrying the coffin at the paramilitary funeral of a former Irish National Liberation Army member in Derry. A masked Real Irish Republican Army gunman fired a volley of shots over the coffin, although Eastwood stated he was not present at the time of the gunfire. He defended his attendance at the funeral saying the deceased was a personal friend and added "I wasn't concerned at the time about who was standing beside me, or about what flag or otherwise was draped over the coffin."[4][5] It later emerged that party colleague Mark H. Durkan also attended the funeral.[6]

On 14 November 2015, Eastwood contested the leadership election held at the SDLP's annual conference. He beat the incumbent, Alasdair McDonnell, by 172 votes to 133.[3]


When a serving British soldier posted an offensive remark about the victims of Bloody Sunday on the internet, Eastwood said that "they [i.e. the Ministry of Defence] should dismiss this man from the army without delay."[7]


  1. ^ "Foyle results". BBC News – Election 2011. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  2. ^ Derry City Council Archived 11 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b "SDLP leadership: Colum Eastwood wins contest against Alasdair McDonnell". BBC News. 14 November 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  4. ^ "MLA criticised for role at funeral where shots fired",, 20 April 2012.
  5. ^ "Colum Eastwood defends decision to carry coffin of friend Seamus Coyle",, 20 April 2012.
  6. ^ "Colum Eastwood moved in SDLP Stormont shuffle",, 22 April 2012.
  7. ^ "Derry Journal – 'Sunday' insult soldier should be kicked out of Army: MLA". Derry Journal. Derry Journal. Retrieved 15 August 2016. 
Civic offices
Preceded by
Paul Fleming
Mayor of Derry
2010 to 2011
Succeeded by
Maurice Devenney
Party political offices
Preceded by
Alasdair McDonnell
Leader of the SDLP
2015 to present
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Pól Callaghan
MLA for Foyle
2011 to present