Phil Flanagan fails Sinn Féin reselection test

Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has been deselected
Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has been deselected

ONE of Sinn Féin's youngest and most high-profile MLAs will not run in next year's assembly election after being deselected by colleagues.

Fermanagh-South Tyrone representative Phil Flanagan (31) failed to gain the necessary support from delegates at a constituency selection convention on Sunday.

Party activists instead chose former Fermanagh-South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew, sitting MLA Sean Lynch and Councillor John Feely. Last week sitting Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA Bronwyn McGahan confirmed that she will not be seeking nomination for next year's election.

Mr Flanagan was regarded as one of Sinn Féin's most promising MLAs, however, he is also one of the party's more controversial representatives, having been censured by the assembly authorities on a number of occasions.

The former small-business owner from Garrison, who was elected to the assembly in 2011, has been particularly active on social media but fell foul of his Stormont colleagues over the content of his posts on Twitter.

In 2012 he called Ulster Unionists Tom Elliott and Mike Nesbitt "clampits" on Twitter, while the following year he retweeted a remark about the Duchess of Cambridge's pregnancy.

More recently he was criticised by Stormont speaker Mitchel McLaughlin for not wearing a tie in the assembly chamber and last month reportedly said he was not comfortable calling ISIS terrorists.

Mr Flanagan was unavailable for comment yesterday. It is understood the Fermanagh-South Tyrone selections have still to be ratified by Sinn Fein's Ard Chomhairle.