Published Saturday, 10 November 2012
Alasdair McDonnell at the SDLP party conference. (© Pacemaker)
The party leader spoke during the annual event, which is taking place at the Armagh, where SDLP member Sharon Haughey sits as the city's first ever Lord Mayor.
On Saturday, Dr McDonnell said Northern Ireland is entering a new phase of politics and that his party is rejecting what he described as the complacent and paralysed Stormont Executive.
"I am proud that we are now stronger than we've been in years and I know we will come through this new and challenging phase of politics even stronger," said the South Belfast MP.
He described the SDLP as "much stronger" than a year ago, referring to 40 new local representatives acting across Northern Ireland and added that the party hopes to regain the seat it lost in the European election in 2004.
"We are re-energised and well prepared for electoral battle again," said Dr McDonnell.
He called for a re-casting of relationships including more "dynamic relationships" with the governments in London and Dublin.
"We need a new dynamic relationship with Government in London that allows us maximum devolved control of our own economic destiny and provides us with all the tools necessary to rebalance our economy," explained Dr McDonnell.
The party leader said the SDLP will use Private Members Bills and its sole minister, Alex Attwood, and will act as a "watchdog" for the Stormont Executive.
"We are a watchdog within the Executive... And our watchdog's bite is every bit as bad as his bark," he added.