Northern Ireland news

Martina Anderson confirmed as Sinn Féin European election candidate

Sinn Féin's Martina Anderson after being selected on Saturday to contest next month's European election. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

SITTING Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has been confirmed as the party's candidate for the May 23 European election.

Ms Anderson, who topped the poll in 2014 with more than 25 per cent of first preference votes, was chosen at a selection convention in Belfast on Saturday.

She has been an MEP since 2012 after replacing Bairbre de Brún.

Ms Anderson described the forthcoming election as an opportunity to send a message to Brussels, London and Dublin that the people of Ireland "will not be left behind".

She said it was a poll the British government "didn't want to happen".

"The DUP didn't want EU elections either – their Brexit involves stripping people of their rights including the right to vote," the Sinn Féin representative said.

"Not only do they refuse rights that everyone else in Britain and Ireland enjoy, they also want to remove EU rights too."

Ms Anderson said her party had "continually fought against Brexit" and ensured the "interests of the people of Ireland have taken centre stage".

"We have stood up for all our citizens from right across the community in full confidence challenging and confronting all that is wrong with the EU and supporting and advancing all that is right for Ireland," she said.

Party leader Mary-Lou McDonald said Sinn Féin was "euro-critical" but that leaving EU was "not the answer".

"There are fundamental questions to be asked about the direction of the EU," she told Saturday's selection convention at the Balmoral Hotel.

"The north leaving is not the answer – leaving was never the answer."

Mrs McDonald said all of Ireland should be in the EU, leading a "fair and social" Europe but "opposing federalisation and the creation of an EU army".

The Sinn Féin leader reiterated her opposition to Brexit, highlighting how a majority in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU.

She criticised the Conservatives and the DUP for "dragging" the region out of the EU.

"This election is an opportunity to say clearly to the Tories and DUP – your time is over; your Brexit is over," she said.

"Brexit demonstrates the undemocratic nature of partition. It also demonstrates the power that we have to shape change. Let us continue to be a strong, unyielding voice in the Europe."

The DUP confirmed last week that its sitting MEP Diane Dodds will contest next month's poll.

The Ulster Unionist Party has yet to decide whether Jim Nicholson, who has held one of the north's three European Parliament seats for almost 30 years, will stand again.

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