The Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP), Northern Ireland’s main
nationalist party, has appointed Conall McDevitt as its first director
Starting next week with a support staff of one, McDevitt will take
charge of the party’s press relations and advise on its overall
communications strategy. Based in Belfast, he will be initially hired on
a three-year contract.
McDevitt is the first person fill a public relations role at the SDLP
for two-and-a-half years. An earlier press officer post was scrapped
following a restructuring within the party. Media relations was
subsequently handled by the office of SDLP leader John Hume.
For the last six months McDevitt has been a technical writer for
Northern Ireland Public Sector Enterprises (NI-CO). Set up by the
Department for Economic Development, the company provides business
development assistance for public services in Britain and abroad. Prior
to that, he worked as a political adviser to Bernie Malone, MEP for
McDevitt said that a major part of his job would be to explain and
promote the SDLP’s part in the Northern Ireland peace process, and in
particular the role played by John Hume. He added that he would also
seek to publicise party policy on issues such as health, education and
inward investment in the run up to the general election.
‘The SDLP is a party with a very broad policy base and there is a
critical need to be proactive in communicating bread and butter issues,’
The SDLP has four MPs sitting in Westminster and around 3,000 card
carrying members in Northern Ireland.