Northern Ireland news

Naomi Long set for new year Stormont return

Naomi Long is set to return to the assembly in the new year. Picture by Mark Marlow

ALLIANCE leader Naomi Long will take a seat in the Stormont assembly when her time as an MEP comes to an end on January 31, party sources have indicated.

The former East Belfast MP was elected to the European Parliament in May but Brexit means her tenure will end after just eight months.

Mrs Long resigned her seat in the assembly after being elected as an MEP, with Alliance veteran Máire Hendron taking her place at Stormont, on the understanding that it could be a short stint.

The Alliance leader's return to the assembly would pave the way for her to potentially take the justice minister's role in any restored executive.

In 2016, then Alliance leader David Ford declined to retake the justice portfolio after the larger parties failed to meet his party's pre-conditions, which included fresh protocol on the use of the petition of concern and a commitment to integrated education.

The SDLP will select assembly replacements for Colum Eastwood and Claire Hanna in the coming days

Meanwhile, the SDLP has said it will co-opt new assembly members to replace Colum Eastwood and Claire Hanna in the coming days.

Under double-jobbing rules, the party has seven days after the new MPs are signed in at Westminster to fill the seats.

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