Political news

People Before Profit to run two assembly candidates in West Belfast

Gerry Carroll topped the West Belfast poll in May's assembly election. Picture by Alan Lewis
John Monaghan

PEOPLE Before Profit are to stand two assembly candidates in West Belfast following success last year in the republican stronghold.

Gerry Carroll, who topped the poll in May to join Foyle MLA Eamonn McCann at Stormont, will be joined on the ballot paper by Michael Collins, a party activist for the past decade and brother of Belfast city councillor Matt Collins.

The election of Mr Carroll, with the highest personal vote in Northern Ireland after DUP leader Arlene Foster, saw Sinn Féin fail to secure five seats in West Belfast for the first time since power-sharing was restored in 2007.

Four party members were returned, with the SDLP's Alex Attwood taking the sixth spot.

Despite the number of MLAs in each constituency being reduced to five this year, Mr Collins was selected by members to join Mr Carroll on the ticket at a meeting in west Belfast.

Mr Collins said: "People across this city are infuriated at the recent RHI scandal which wasted up to £600 million, while people are on the streets homeless, while pensioners are struggling to heat their homes, and workers are being denied a decent pay rise.

"The establishment parties are terrified at the idea of PBP taking two seats. They will throw everything at us but the kitchen sink. But people in this community aren't stupid. They know that they have been let down. And that is why we think we can take two in the west for PBP."

On Sunday, Sinn Féin selected only its four sitting MLAs - Alex Maskey, Fra McCann, Pat Sheehan and Órlaithí Flynn, who replaced Jennifer McCann last year - to run in West Belfast.

Alex Attwood, who narrowly secured the final seat last time around, is also expected to run again.

Meanwhile, outgoing justice minister Claire Sugden has confirmed she intends to run again in East Derry in the March 2 poll.

The independent unionist said she had pledged to work for voters for five years and "I intend on keeping my promise".

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