Martina Anderson and Diane Dodds earmarked for European poll

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has been earmarked to contest the European election. Picture Mal McCann

TWO of the north's sitting MEPs have been earmarked to be candidates to contest European elections next month.

The EU's decision to grant an extension to Article 50 means the UK is now likely to have to elect representatives again to the European Parliament.

The Electoral Office has confirmed that unless Brexit happens in the meantime, the poll will take place on Thursday May 23 – three weeks after the local government elections.

Counting of votes will begin the following Monday May 27.

Notice of the European election will be issued on Monday of next week with nominations opening the following day.

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The DUP has confirmed that sitting MEP Diane Dodds will be the party's candidate, her selection having been ratified at a party executive meeting last week.

Sinn Féin is scheduled to hold a selection convention in Belfast tomorrow but party sources have indicated that its MEP Martina Anderson is likely to be the sole nomination.

It is not known whether the north's longest-sitting MEP, Ulster Unionist Jim Nicholson, will contest the election.

A UUP spokesman said: "This is an evolving situation – the party will follow its normal selection procedures and will meet shortly to discuss the next steps."

Both the SDLP and Alliance said they were in the process of selecting candidates to contest the election.

However, Alliance has moved to quell any speculation that it may forge a pact with other pro-Remain parties.

"In an election via single transferable vote there is no need for pacts – indeed, they could be detrimental to turn-out if voters feel their choice has been limited," a spokesman said.

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