Is this a defining moment for the SDLP?

And by extension nationalist politics.

Over the past week we have witnessed a very public internal wrangle within the SDLP regarding the SPAD bill. Well respected old hands of the party, Brid Rodgers and Seamus Mallon have weighed in big style. This has weakened the hand of the leadership, namely big Al. It has also changed the power dynamic within the party. Note the silence of the likes of Conal McDevitt.

Sinn Fein have turned this into an internal nationalist debate about a heirarchy of victims and the essence of the Good Friday Agreement. Make no mistake this is about nationalist votes, hearts and minds. A fight, a very real fight, is going on within nationalism which touches upon raw issues.

At the heart of it is the definition of the word victim.

In my view this is a moment of truth which will define the direction nationalist politics may take going forward. My opinion, for what it is worth, is that the SDLP have made an unholy mess of this. Sinn Fein are capitalising on that mess and will benefit as a result electorally. Our memories are long and our capacity for forgiveness is not renowned.