- Margaret Ritchie (politician)
Margaret Ritchie MP MLA Leader of SDLP In office
7 February 2010 – 5 November 2011
Preceded by Mark Durkan Succeeded by Alasdair McDonnell Member of Parliament
for South Down
Incumbent Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Eddie McGrady Majority 8,412 (19.8%) Minister for Social Development In office
Preceded by Office suspended (Nigel Dodds) Succeeded by Alex Attwood Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for South Down
Incumbent Assumed office
26 November 2003
Personal details Born 25 March 1958
Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland
Nationality Irish Political party Social Democratic and Labour Party Alma mater Queens University of Belfast Religion Roman Catholicism Website Ritchie SDLP
Margaret Ritchie (born 25 March 1958) is an Irish politician from Northern Ireland. She was the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party from 7 February 2010 to 5 November 2011 - being replaced in this role by Alasdair McDonnell - and served as the Minister for Social Development from 8 May 2007 until her election to the UK Parliament in May 2010. She was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of South Down on 6 May 2010. On 24 May, she resigned from the Stormont Executive. She was succeeded as Minister for Social Development by her party colleague, Alex Attwood.
Ritchie is a graduate of Queen's University, Belfast and served as Parliamentary assistant to Eddie McGrady MP from 1987 to 2003.
Ritchie became a councillor on Down District Council in 1985 and was Vice-Chairman (1992–93) and Chairman of the Council (1993–94). She has also served as International Secretary of the SDLP and as an alternate member of the European Committee of the Regions.
She was nominated as the Social Development minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly by the SDLP which took effect on 8 May 2007. Ritchie served as the sole SDLP minister in the Paisley/Robinson-McGuinness Northern Ireland Executive. She became the leader of the SDLP succeeding Mark Durkan on 7 February 2010 and was elected MP for South Down on the 6th of May 2010.
Despite the SDLP's opposition to "double-jobbing", Ritchie currently retains her seat in the Assembly as well as her seat in the House of Commons.
On Remembrance Day 2010, Ritchie made history by becoming the first leader of a nationalist party to wear a remembrance poppy. She wore it at the wreath-laying ceremony at the cenotaph in Downpatrick. In Northern Ireland, the wearing of poppies is controversial. It is seen by many as a political symbol representing support for the British Army. Because of this, it has long been the preserve of the unionist/loyalist community. She received praise from several unionist councillors for this.
On December 2010 she launched a verbal attack on Sinn Féin by urging voters in the Republic of Ireland not to vote for Sinn Féin in the next Irish General Election describing their politics as 'sectarian' and causing 'division'. A Sinn Féin spokesperson described the comments as "nonsense" and "an attempt to score cheap points" 
In the Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2011, the SDLP lost two seats and saw its vote decline by 1%. On the 27th of July 2011 it was reported that she faced a leadership challenge from deputy leader Patsy McGlone.  The Phoenix reported that only one MLA Alex Attwood was prepared to back her and that "she will be humiliated if she puts her leadership to a vote" 
WikiLeaks US Cable
In a leaked US cable Ritchie was branded "wooden" and had her leadership of the SDLP questioned. Also she was considered to be burdened "with what some deem an unpleasant speaking voice" and lacking the "political muscle and business acumen" to rebuild the SDLP.
- ^ "Ritchie elected as new SDLP leader". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. 7 February 2010. http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0207/sdlp.html. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- ^ http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/thousands-gather-to-remember-war-dead-14555647.html
- ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/images/symbols/unionloyal.htm
- ^ SDLP Leader Ritchie to wear Poppy BBC News
- ^ Decision to wear poppy difficult for SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie Belfast Telegraph
- ^ Ritchies Poppy Move 'Is a major breakthrough' The Newsletter
- ^ Ritchie warns voters over Sinn FeinBelfast Telegraph
- ^ http://www.louthleader.co.uk/news/ritchie_warns_voters_over_sinn_fein_1_2214179
- ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-14316761
- ^  The Phoenix Magazine August 12 - 25th 2011 Bird's Eye View Patsy McGlone's Leadership Strike pg 8
- ^ US Cable brands SDLP leader woodenBBC News
Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded by
Member of Parliament for Down South
Incumbent Northern Ireland Assembly Preceded by
MLA for Down South
Incumbent Political offices Preceded by
Minister for Social Development
2007 - 2010
Party political offices Preceded by
Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party
2010 - 2011
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Leadership Leaders Deputy Leaders ChairEddie McGrady (1971–1973) · Denis Haughey (1973–1978) · Bríd Rodgers (1978–1980) · Sean Farren (1980–1984) · Alban Maginness (1984-1990) · Mark Durkan (1990–1995) · Jonathan Stephenson (1995–1998) · Jim Lennon (1998–2000) · Alex Attwood (2000–2004) · Patricia Lewsley (2004–2007) · Eddie McGrady (2007–2009) · Joe Byrne (2009–present) General Secretary Elected representatives Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly Members of the UK Parliament Related Leaders of political parties in the United Kingdom House of Commons Scottish Parliament National Assembly for Wales Northern Ireland Assembly Minor parties
Nick Griffin (BNP) · George Hargreaves (Christian) · Robin Tilbrook (English Democrats) · Rob Wheway (Liberal) · Dick Cole (Mebyon Kernow) · Billy Hutchinson (Progressive Unionist Party) · Salma Yaqoob (Respect) · Colin Fox and Frances Curran (SSP) · Arthur Scargill (Socialist Labour) · Tommy Sheridan and Rosemary Byrne (Solidarity) · Nigel Farage (UKIP)
Portal:Politics - List of political parties - Politics of the United Kingdom
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