N. Ireland Politics

Former NI21 deputy leader Johnny McCarthy joins SDLP

Johnny McCarthy
Image caption Johnny McCarthy won his seat on Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council in 2014

A former deputy leader of NI21 is joining the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).

Johnny McCarthy, who was the only member of NI21 to be elected since the party was formed in 2013, sits on Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.

He left the party in December, saying he felt he could "work better outside of the party".

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood announced Mr McCarthy's move on the BBC's The Stephen Nolan Show.

Mr Eastwood said: "He believes that our party is now in the right place to bring Northern Ireland forward and to try and change the face of this place."

Split

"The former deputy leader of another party is joining the SDLP - I think that's a very positive thing for our party, it's something that shows people we are changing."

Mr McCarthy won his council seat in the 2014 election.

But the party's executive split bitterly just hours before that poll and the European election, with its initial chairperson Tina McKenzie and then deputy leader John McCallister leaving a short time later.

Lagan Valley MLA Basil McCrea is now NI21's only member in elected office.

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