Northern Ireland

Colum Eastwood pledges to hold Labour Government’s ‘feet to fire’ over Legacy Bill

‘Let’s get going’ - newly re-elected Foyle MP

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood during his party’s manifesto launch at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry City
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood re-elected in Foyle. (Liam McBurney/PA)

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood pledged to hold the Labour government’s feet to the fire on legacy and Palestine as he was re-elected as MP for Foyle.

Mr Eastwood who has represented the constituency since 2019, received 15,647 votes, a reduction of 11,234 on his 2019 total of 26,881.

Speaking from the podium following his election, Mr Eastwood thanked election staff and paid tribute to the other Foyle candidates.

He added: “Politics is very difficult. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t win. I have been on both sides of that argument, but the most important thing is we have a democratic process that people take part in, without fear of intimidation and violence.

“I am very grateful mostly to the people of Derry who have once again said that they want their voice to be heard in Westminster.

“I will gladly continue to be your voice. I will stand up for the people of our city, of our constituency. We won’t be quiet.

“I have to say, I am delighted to see the back of the Tory government. For 14 years they have destroyed our public services. 14 years of destroying the economy,14 years of destroying the public finances is now gone. We are delighted that has happened,” said Mr Eastwood.

The newly elected MP said the SDLP was going to have to be in Westminster to “hold the Labour Government’s feet to the fire” over the Legacy Act and recognition for the state of Palestine.

“At that, I want to say, let’s get going.”

The number of eligible voters in Foyle was 73,496 and the total votes polled was 38, 765 – a percentage turnout of 52.74%.

Although the polls closed at 10.00pm on Thursday, the ballot boxes from the constituency did not arrive in Meadowbank until 12.30am, when the count eventually got underway.

At his party’s manifesto launch, Mr Eastwood had described Foyle as a “two-horse race” – between himself and Sinn Féin’s Sandra Duffy. Ms Duffy who finished second in the poll received 11,481 votes – an increase of 1,710 on 2019.

DUP candidate Gary Middleton received 3,915 votes, a decrease of 858. UUP candidate Janice Montgomery increased her party’s vote by 332, to 1,422.

Interestingly, Rachel Ferguson of the Alliance Party polled 1 more vote on Thursday than she did in 2019 – 1,268. Shaun Harkin of People Before Profit saw his vote increase by 1,112 to 2,444. Anne McCloskey saw her vote decrease from 2,032 in 2019 to 1,519 on Thursday.

John Boyle, Aontú - 662

Sandra Duffy, Sinn Féin – 11,481

Colum Eastwood, SDLP – 15,647

Shaun Harkin, People Before Profit – 2,444

Rachael Ferguson, Alliance – 1,268

Anne McCloskey, Independent – 1,519

Gary Middleton, DUP – 3,915

Janice Montgomery, UUP – 1,422