Published Thursday, 05 September 2013
Whatever members felt about Conall McDevitt and there were contrasting views, there was no doubt the man had talent.
He was the leader-in-waiting, having given his constituency colleague Alasdair McDonnell a close run for the party leadership the last time.
Significantly, McDevitt was a prominent member of the policing board and one of the SDLP team for the Haass talks.
I suspect he could also have been the party's candidate for the European election next year.
But it does not matter now, he is political history, all for an undeclared £6,750 payment.
Within hours, maybe even minutes, the runners and riders were positioning themselves for co-option to the Assembly.
Popular councillor Claire Hanna would have a lot of support within the constituency.
McDonnell advisor Fearghal McKinney would have also have his admirers and would be seen as being good with the media.
Bernie Kelly and bright young researcher Caroline McNeill have also been mentioned.
Under SDLP rules a convention will be called, which strangely nullifies the power of the party leader.
Many insiders believe an agreed candidate with a coronation would unite the party and take the sting out of a difficult situation.
There is also the prospect of Alasdair McDonnell giving up his Stormont seat as double jobbing will not be allowed after the next Westminster election.
The promise of a future seat could be used to make an arrangement before the convention which is expected to take place in four weeks time.
But, overall, the SDLP does not have much room for manoeuvre.
The party has suffered continuous electoral decline with no sign of an improvement.
One of the shining lights was Conall McDevitt.
And now he has gone.
© UTV News