Northern Ireland

Three of four new MLAs named as MPs’ replacements

Four new members will be co-opted into the assembly to replace successful Westminster candidates

Newly co-opted MLA MIchelle Guy with Alliance leader MNaomi Long

Three new MLAs have been named as co-optees to the assembly, replacing successful candidates in last week’s Westminster election.

Four of the north’s new MPs will be forced to give up their Stormont’s seats due to rules that prohibit double jobbing.

Alliance’s Michelle Guy, a councillor in Lisburn and Castlereagh, was signed in at Stormont on Wednesday as a replacement for Sorcha Eastwood in Lagan Valley, while Mid and East Antrim councillor Colin Crawford will be co-opted into Robin Swann’s North Antrim assembly seat after the former Ulster Unionist leader became MP for neighbouring South Antrim.

Newly-elected North Down independent unionist MP Alex Easton has confirmed DUP Ards and North Down councillor and former Stormont special adviser Peter Martin as his Stormont successor, while TUV leader Jim Allister’s replacement will be selected in the coming days.

DUP leader Gavin Robinson described the result in North Down as “what can be achieved when various strands of unionism come together to maximise pro-Union representation”.

“Peter is already a hardworking representative in North Down and is someone who won an additional pro-Union seat at the last election,” Mr Robinson said.

“He brings experience and enthusiasm to the Assembly and will ensure that the people of North Down continue to have a champion on the Assembly benches working together with colleagues in the constituency.”

Ms Guy, meanwhile, said it was an “immense honour” to represent Lagan Valley.

The 45-year-old, who has served as a councillor since 2019 and was Lisburn and Castlereagh deputy mayor in 2022, said she looked forward to “getting straight down to work”.

Former Ulster Unionist Party leader Tom Elliott
Former Ulster Unionist Party leader Tom Elliott will assume the title Baron Elliott of Ballinamallard. PICTURE: NAILL CARSON/PA

“Sorcha Eastwood leaves huge shoes to fill with her history-making election but I will continue to work closely with her as the new MP, as well as my constituency colleague David Honeyford MLA,” she said.

“I look forward to building on their work and mine as councillor to serve the people of Lagan Valley on the issues that matter to them.”

Alliance leader Naomi Long described the party’s new MLA as “dedicated and passionate”.

“Alongside David and Sorcha, as well as our local councillors, Michelle will be a key part of our growing Lagan Valley team, who aim to deliver the Alliance vision of a fairer and better community for everyone across the entire community,” she said.

Meanwhile, newly-appointed Ulster Unionist peer Tom Elliott will remain as an MLA on an “interim” basis.

In his House of Lords role, the former UUP leader will assume the title Baron Elliott of Ballinamallard.

A spokesperson for his party’s Fermanagh-South Tyrone constituency association said: “This great honour reflects the steadfast and unwavering commitment he has shown to the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone over his two decades of public service.

“As a son of Ballinamallard it is most pleasing that the baron has been chosen to share this honour with his home roots.”