Northern Ireland news

Derry Sinn Féin MLAs will not seek assembly election nominations

Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson will not seek nomination for the next assembly election
Connla Young

Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has admitted that a party recommendation for her to stand down was "body blow" as she confirmed she will not be seeking re-nomination for the next assembly elections.

The former republican prisoner was speaking after her party carried out a a wide-ranging review in Derry.

Her colleague Karen Mullan has also confirmed that she too will not be seeking her party's nomination.

The pair had been asked to "consider their positions" as part of a review following two poor elections for Sinn Féin in the city.

The party's entire Derry leadership was also asked to stand down.

Former MP Elisha McCallion, who is Ms Anderson's niece, lost her Westminster seat to SDLP leader Colum Eastwood by more than 17,000 votes in the 2019 general election.

The republican party also lost five of its sixteen seats on Derry and Strabane council in local elections.

In a video posted on her Twitter account last night Ms Anderson said she was hit hard by the party recommendation.

"As a republican activist of over 45 years I admit that recommendation came as a body blow," she said.

She said she has since been contacted by "comrades, friends and supporters" offering their "solidarity and support."

"The majority have urged me to stay on," she said.

"It has been a difficult time for Karen Mullen and I, but no matter that difficulty we have approached this with republican integrity and Derry pride.

"This struggle is bigger than any one of us."

The former MEP and junior minister said she will not seek her party's nomination.

"Throughout my life as a republican I have always put our struggle first," she said.

"And so, in wanting what the leadership believe to be best for it I have decided not to seek the nomination to contest the next assembly election.

She said she will continue to work with the party.

"As a member of Sinn Féin I will support and work for whoever the local membership selects as a candidate for the next assembly election to help build the political support needed to take us to our ultimate objective of Irish reunification."

Ms Anderson thanked her party for affording her the opportunity to stand in previous elections.

"It is now time to focus on the task before us and to move forward with our collective cohesion to continue rebuilding the lost confidence in Sinn Féin in Derry," she said.

Her colleague Karen Mullan also confirmed she will not be seeking her party's nomination.

"It has been a great privilege to represent and work for the people of Derry. I will continue to be a SF (Sinn Féin) activist and I look forward to a new chapter in my life."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood last night offered the pair the "best of luck... as they embark on the next chapter of their lives."

"Public service isn't easy and politics is even tougher," he said.

"I've known both of them to be deeply committed to our city."

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