Colum Eastwood

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Colum Eastwood

Eastwood in 2014
Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party
Assumed office
14 November 2015
DeputyFearghal McKinney
Nichola Mallon
Preceded byAlasdair McDonnell
Member of Parliament
for Foyle
Assumed office
12 December 2019
Preceded byElisha McCallion
Majority17,110 (36.3%)
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Foyle
In office
5 May 2011 – 12 December 2019
Preceded byPól Callaghan
Succeeded bySinead McLaughlin
Personal details
Born (1983-04-30) 30 April 1983 (age 37)
Derry, Northern Ireland
Political partySDLP
Spouse(s)Rachael Eastwood
Alma materUniversity of Liverpool

Colum Eastwood MP (born 30 April 1983) is an Irish nationalist politician serving as Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) since 2015. He has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Foyle since 2019, and served in Northern Ireland Assembly from 2011 to 2019.

Eastwood was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011, and has since been re-elected. He was also the SDLP candidate in the 2019 European Parliament election to represent Northern Ireland.[1] In December 2019 he was elected to the British House of Commons as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Foyle.


Eastwood was born in Derry, where he was educated at St John's Primary School (Creggan) and at St Columb's College. He later attended the University of Liverpool, where he studied Latin American Studies though he did not finish his degree.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4]

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."[5][6] It later emerged that party colleague Mark H. Durkan also attended the funeral.[7]

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.[4] Eastwood was re-elected to the NI Assembly in 2016 and 2017, receiving 5,000 and 7,240 first preference votes, respectively.[citation needed]

On 12 December 2019 Eastwood was elected as Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for Foyle in a landslide victory against Sinn Féin candidate, then incumbent, Elisha McCallion.

He was the first of the new MPs elected at the 2019 general election to make his maiden speech in the Commons.[8]


  1. ^ "Foyle results". BBC News – Election 2011. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  2. ^ Moriarty, Gerry. "SDLP'S Colum Eastwood ready to reboot 'most successful party in Irish history'". The Irish Times.
  3. ^ Derry City Council Archived 11 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b "SDLP leadership: Colum Eastwood wins contest against Alasdair McDonnell". BBC News. 14 November 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  5. ^ "MLA criticised for role at funeral where shots fired". 20 April 2012.
  6. ^ "Colum Eastwood defends decision to carry coffin of friend Seamus Coyle". BBC News. 20 April 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  7. ^ "Colum Eastwood moved in SDLP Stormont shuffle". BBC News. 22 April 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Debate on the Address - Hansard". Retrieved 21 January 2020.

External links[edit]

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
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Elisha McCallion
Member of Parliament
for Foyle

2019 to present
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Pól Callaghan
MLA for Foyle
2011 to 2020
Succeeded by
Sinead McLaughlin