Voters have been urged to ‘bring back the missing voice of Upper Bann’, Dolores Kelly by her SDLP party leader Colum Eastwood.
Mr Eastwood was in Lurgan today (Monday) to endorse the Mrs Kelly’s bid for an Assembly seat and launch his party’s election campaign.
His first mission was to call for the voters to ‘bringing back the missing voice of Upper Bann’.
Speaking at Lough Neagh Discovery Centre at Oxford Island, Mr Eastwood said: “Before addressing the continuing campaign that lies before us in the next few weeks, I would like say something about this particular constituency.
“There may have been a lot packed in during the last 9 months but there has also been something missing.
“Even as the noise and heat of the Assembly reverberated beyond its own walls over the last number of months, it has been more and more noticeable that there has been something missing.
“There has been a distinctive and definite voice absent. It is a voice that stands up for every community and all of the people in Lurgan, Craigavon and Portadown. It is a voice that never shies away from a good battle – in fact anyone and everyone knows that she is anything but shy. But there have been many the better for it.
“There have been many the better for the fact that she is always willing to fight the good fight.
“It’s only been 9 months but we have missed that voice. Upper Bann has missed that voice. It’s time to bring it back. On March 2nd it’s time to bring Dolores Kelly back to the Assembly.”
Mr Eastwood said it was a ‘unique chance to Make Change Happen’.
“It is important to bear in mind that hunger for change in the weeks ahead.
“There have been heroic attempts to formulate distractions and diversions about what this election in Northern Ireland is actually about.
“Many have asked different questions about its true cause. Is it about the ‘cash-for-ash’ scandal or is it about Brexit? Is it about the arrogance of Arlene Foster or is it about an increasingly insecure and reactionary Sinn Féin?
“There is always a danger in the North that because of our complex history we always end up complicating the present.
“The truth of this election is a lot simpler. It is an election about the collapse and failure of a government.
“The truth is that Sinn Féin called time when it suited themselves – not when it would have saved the public purse.
“Standing up for equality, standing up for an Irish Language Act and standing up against corruption are all good slogans but you can’t wear the clothes of opposition and protest when you’ve held the power of government for so long.
“They didn’t stand up for anything during last May’s Programme for Government negotiations.
“Therefore this is an election about a DUP party and its special advisers which ran government like their own play thing and a weak Sinn Féin party that let them away with it.”