General Election

Green Party backs SDLP's Claire Hanna in South Belfast

Green Party leader Clare Bailey. Picture by Hugh Russell

Green Party Northern Ireland leader Clare Bailey has confirmed she will not run in South Belfast, and instead urged her supporters to vote for the SDLP's Claire Hanna.

The constituency is expected to see a close race between Ms Hanna and the DUP's Emma Little Pengelly.

Ms Bailey said she made the decision based on her stance on Brexit, urging voters to return a pro-Remain MP in South Belfast.

"Almost 70 per cent of the people of South Belfast voted to remain in the EU and it is vital that a pro-Remain MP is returned," she said.

"This is a first-past-the-post election and Claire Hanna is best placed to take the South Belfast seat from the incumbent pro-Brexit MP, based on previous results."

Claire Hana said she was "genuinely thrilled to have the backing of the Green Party":

The Green Party follows Sinn Féin who have also stood aside to boost Ms Hanna's chances at the polls in December.

Ms Little-Pengelly won South Belfast at the 2017 general election, polling 13,299 votes, ahead of nearest rival Alasdair McDonnell of the SDLP on 11,303.

However, she is likely to come under pressure if many of the 7,000 Sinn Féin votes and 2,000 Green Party votes at the 2017 poll are lent to Ms Hanna.

The move is the latest in a series of announcements by parties lending support to rivals in the December election.

The SDLP's Nichola Mallon announced that she would not contest North Belfast, where Sinn Féin lord mayor John Finucane is hoping to overturn a DUP majority of just over 2,000.

Sinn Féin will also follow the SDLP's example by not standing in East Belfast and North Down in an effort to help respective pro-Remain candidates Naomi Long of Alliance and independent unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon.

Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster announced that her party will not run in Fermanagh South Tyrone, and will instead back former Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliott in a bid to unseat Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew.

Mr Elliott has declined to say whether he intends to run.

On Sunday, incoming UUP leader Steve Aiken announced that his will not field a candidate in North Belfast, where DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds is expected to come under pressure from Sinn Féin's John Finucane.

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General Election

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