Northern Ireland news

Gildernew loses out to Phil Flanagan in Fermanagh-South Tyrone

 Phil Flanagan, Michelle Gildernew and Sean Lynch
Staff reporter

SINN FÉIN former MP Michelle Gildernew has lost out on being selected to contest the assembly elections in Fermanagh-South Tyrone – with the party’s Phil Flanagan given a second chance.

The party re-ran a selection convention in Enniskillen last night after five names were thrown in the hat for May’s election in Fermanagh-South Tyrone – despite selecting just three before Christmas.

The three selected at that time were Ms Gildernew, sitting MLA Sean Lynch and councillor John Feeley.

Sinn Féin last night confirmed that Mr Flanagan, Mr Lynch and Mr Feeley had been selected.

The inclusion of sitting MLA Phil Flanagan in the re-selection caused ripples, following the controversy surrounding a number of gaffes he had posted on social media – one of which resulted in him being successfully sued for libel by Ulster Unionst MP for the area, Tom Elliott, over comments posted about his UDR past.

Many observers thought his political career was finished after being deselected by his party constituency organisation in December.

But earlier this month the party’s Ard Chomhairle decided to re-run the selection process in Fermanagh/South Tyrone, effectively giving the 31-year-old a second chance.

Also added was Bronwyn McGahan, a sitting MLA who had announced she would not be seeking re-election ahead of the first selection convention.

Mr Flanagan is the one of the youngest and most high-profile assembly members at Stormont.

His outbursts have been censured by Stormont authorities on a number of occasions.

In 2012 he called Ulster Unionists Tom Elliott and Mike Nesbitt “clampits” on Twitter, while the following year he retweeted a remark about the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy.

More recently he was criticised by Stormont speaker Mitchel McLaughlin for not wearing a tie in the assembly.

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