Northern Ireland

Nursing chief Pat Cullen expected to be Sinn Féin candidate in Fermanagh-South Tyrone

The Royal College of Nursing head will seek nomination later this week

General secretary of the Royal College of Nursing Pat Cullen has written to Health Secretary Victoria Atkins to voice her concerns
Pat Cullen (Lucy North/PA)

Nursing union chief Pat Cullen is expected to be named as Sinn Féin’s general election candidate in Fermanagh-South Tyrone.

A party statement confirmed that the general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is seeking a nomination to stand in Westminster’s most westerly constituency on July 4.

The seat is currently held by Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, with a slender majority of 57.

Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew
Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew

Ms Gildernew, one of two Sinn Féin candidates running in the Republic’s Midlands and North West constituency in next week’s European Parliament elections, has said she will not be defending the Westminster seat.

Ms Cullen, who was a awarded an honorary professorship by Queen’s University Belfast, is stepping down from the RCN role she has held for the past three years and will be among the nominees at a Sinn Féin selection convention later this week.

The nursing union is now actively seeking her successor.

“It has been the honour of my life to have served in the RCN and to provide leadership every day to hundreds of thousands of hardworking nurses and healthcare staff who always prioritise the delivery of high-quality care to patients,” Ms Cullen said.

“After much consideration, I have decided that now is the right time for me to step forward in to the political arena to champion the issues and opportunities for the community I love, and that is what I am fully determined to do.”

She said the forthcoming election was an “opportunity to vote for a new and better future”.

“It is also an opportunity to support better funding for our public services and to reject years of cruel Tory cuts which have targeted frontline services, particularly health,” she said.