Northern Ireland

Alasdair McDonnell 'confident' he will remain as SDLP leader

Alasdair McDonnell
Image caption Alasdair McDonnell said the grassroots of his party were "very robustly" behind him

Alasdair McDonnell has said he is confident he will remain leader of Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) despite giving up his MLA job.

He is to stand down from the Northern Ireland Assembly later this summer but will remain as MP for South Belfast.

The move is in response to criticism of "double-jobbing" but some grandees within his own party have said he cannot lead the SDLP from Westminster.

But Dr McDonnell said he has "robust" support from grassroots SDLP members.

He said he was unfazed by the public criticism from senior SDLP members, who included former party leader Mark Durkan, and former deputy leaders Seamus Mallon and Brid Rodgers.

After last month's Westminster elections, in which Dr McDonnell successfully defended his South Belfast seat, Mr Mallon said he should give up the leadership.

Speaking on the BBC's Inside Politics, Dr McDonnell said his party had the option of challenging his leadership when it holds it annual party conference in November.

"I will put what I've done, my track record and my programme going forward, to the conference and I'm quite confident that I will be re-elected again," he said.

"The grassroots of the party are very, very robustly behind me and I want to deliver for them.

"I believe I've spent all my life delivering on my promises. I don't make a lot of promises but the few I do make, I keep," the SDLP leader added.

Alasdair McDonnell's interview can be heard again on BBC Radio Ulster when Inside Politics is repeated at 13:30 BST on Saturday, 13 June.

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