I see from slugger that vice-chair of the SDLP, Eddie Espie has resigned from the party. I must admit to never having heard of the man untill earlier this year when he laughably suggested that Gerry Adams should resign as President of Sinn Féin in the wake of Denis Donaldson's outing as a British agent. Its somewhat ironic then that while Gerry continues in his role, its in fact Mr. Espie who has decided to resign.
His comments on resigning hint at more than a bit of internal strife within the SDLP. Mr. Espie has harsh words for the SDLP leadership and wwhat he sees as the lack of direction within the party;
In my opinion, it has become polluted by obstinate representatives, corrupted by quick fix self-interested solutions and ruined by pig-headed individuals displaying complete indiscipline. I am no longer prepared to preside over, or have any part in the unremitting demise over the SDLP nor will I allow myself to be corrupted polluted or caged. I will be no ones crony nor part of some narrow minded self promoting agenda or a cabal designed by some ego centred individual whose purpose is to serve their own interest, as opposed to the wider interest of democratic Nationalism, so long as the leadership cabals refuse to acknowledge the problems that exist and refuse to address them this demise will continue
Funnily enough, I've heard another ex-SDLP member describe the party in a similar vein. Bitter last words or the harsh reality? One thing for certain is that any political organisation which treats its grass-roots members with disdain is contributing to its own demise.
There are various people in the SDLP who I would have a lot of time and respect for. I've always believed that just because you don't support a particular party, nor agree with it on some issues, that doesn't mean that you should univerisally condemn the entire party or recognise that on some issues, they may getting things right. I've always been somebody who would be in favour of as much Nationalist unity as possible, not only between SF and the SDLP, but also involving parties in the south. However it does seem that, as a party, the SDLP may be in quite serious trouble. Only time will tell.
Finally, it seems Mr. Espie may have a link to the Irish blogosphere. His website contains images mocking CRJ which have appeared on the interesting nationalist weblog, El Blogador.