Northern Ireland

Sorcha Eastwood in tears after ‘difficult week’ as she accepts Alliance Party nomination for general election fight against Jeffrey Donaldson

The Lagan Valley MLA’s husband Dale Shirlow is battling cancer

Likely Lagan Valley Alliance candidate for Westminster Sorcha Eastwood
Lagan Valley Alliance candidate for Westminster Sorcha Eastwood

MLA Sorcha Eastwood was in tears as she accepted the Alliance Party nomination to stand for the party in the UK general election as she was thinking also of her husband’s battle with cancer.

The candidate was chosen by the party in Lagan Valley, where she will face among others DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson.

But Ms Eastwood is also at the centre of a battle at home after husband Dale Shirlow was diagnosed with an aggressive and rare form of cancer last year.

Sorcha Eastwood and husband Dale. Picture: Sorcha Eastwood/Facebook
Sorcha Eastwood and husband Dale Shirlow. Picture: Sorcha Eastwood/Facebook

“Its been a difficult week at home & I’m so grateful to my Alliance family for coming out to support me today,” the candidate wrote on social media.

“But as I spoke with tears coming down my face, I thought, we don’t get to pick the moment: the moment demands that we step up. So I’m stepping up to it on your behalf.”

Following her nomination, Ms Eastwood said: “It has been the honour of my life to represent people across Lagan Valley as their MLA over the past two years.

“It is an increasingly diverse constituency, made even more so by the forthcoming boundary changes. My colleagues and I work hard every day to represent everyone and that has been reflected by the increased support for Alliance in that time.”

The 38-year-old Alliance MLA revealed last June her husband was “fighting for his life” following the diagnosed with the acute form of leukaemia. Mr Shirlow is being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia T-Cell.

In a statement following the announcement, the Lagan Valley representative said they are focused on staying strong “even though my heart is breaking”.

“We were called in today after the tissue biopsy had initially been inconclusive. But we were working towards a common lymphoma. Unfortunately we didn’t get the news we were hoping for today.”

She added: “He is now fighting for his life, Obviously we are shocked and devastated but he is powering through and we are being strong even though my heart is breaking.”