Northern Ireland news

SF President speaks of `absolute admiration' for two ousted Foyle MLAs

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has spoken about her "absolute admiration" for Foyle assembly members, Martina Anderson and Karen Mullan, who were asked to stand down by the party following a "political review"

SINN Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has spoken about her "absolute admiration" for two Foyle assembly members who were asked to stand down by the party following a "political review".

Last month, it was announced that MLAs Martina Anderson and Karen Mullan were among several party members asked to consider their positions following concerns by the leadership around recent election results in the Foyle constituency.

Both women then announced earlier this month that they would not be standing in the next Assembly elections.

One of Sinn Féin's most high-profile figures, Ms Anderson has represented the party as an MLA, junior minister and MEP since 2007.

Ms Mullan was co-opted into the assembly in June 2017 to replace Elisha McCallion, who had won the Foyle seat at Westminster.

Speaking on BBC NI's The View, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said both MLAs understood "change in Foyle was needed".

In the 2019 General Election, then Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion lost her Foyle seat to SDLP leader Colum Eastwood by more than 17,000 votes.

Months earlier, the party lost five seats on Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Mrs McDonald said change is "hard and it is bruising".

"We had a couple of very bruising elections in Foyle and we carried out a political review," she told The View.

"They [Ms Anderson and Ms Mullan] understand and the organisation understands that what we need in Foyle is change.

"We are preparing for elections, there is an onus to put our best foot forward and we have to serve the people of Derry and give it our very best shot."

She added: "A change like that is hard and it is bruising, but I want to put on record my absolute admiration for both of those women who I count as friends and colleagues".

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