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SDLP suspends MLA for leaving Stormont to attend match

The SDLP has suspended MLA Justin McNulty after he left Stormont early yesterday “without permission” to attend a GAA match in Co Wexford.

Mr McNulty, who is an MLA for Newry and Armagh, is the GAA manager for Laois.

In a statement from the SDLP, Mr McNulty reportedly left the Assembly “without seeking permission and did not return for important parliamentary business”.

Mr McNulty was absent when his party colleague Matthew O’Toole was nominated and appointed as Leader of the Opposition yesterday afternoon.

A party spokesperson said: “All SDLP MLAs were informed by the party’s Chief Whip that attendance at [yesterday’s] sitting was mandatory for the duration of the Assembly proceedings.

“This was a historic day that saw the restoration of devolved government, the election of the first nationalist First Minister and Leader of the Opposition. People rightly expect their elected representatives to be there for work.

“We expected all members of our team to be there to support their colleagues.

“Accordingly, as Mr McNulty was not in his place, did not seek the permission for his absence and breached the direct instruction of the whip, the SDLP Chief Whip has suspended the whip with immediate effect.”

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