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Our future outside of the EU looks bleak, warns Naomi Long

By Noel McAdam

Alliance leader Naomi Long has warned the situation facing Northern Ireland as it faces a future outside the EU is looking "particularly bleak".

Her comments came as bookies narrowed the odds on Mrs Long taking back the East Belfast seat she won from former First Minister Peter Robinson in 2010, but lost in 2015.

Paddy Power shortened the price for the Alliance chief to win to 8/13 - compared to odds of 6/5 for incumbent MP Gavin Robinson. It came after Gavin Robinson's party, the DUP, failed to agree a pact with the Ulster Unionists, who are running Lisburn and Castlereagh councillor Hazel Legge. Gavin Robinson won the seat back from Mrs Long two years ago, helped by a unionist pact.

The move came as Mrs Long and three other candidates lodged their nomination papers yesterday at the Electoral Office: South Belfast candidate Paula Bradshaw; Sorcha Eastwood in West Belfast and Andrew Muir in North Down.

Mrs Long said: "This election comes at a time when things look particularly bleak - the UK is being taken towards a hard Brexit by the Tories, while the Government is seemingly ignoring the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland, in league with some local MPs. Those actions threaten the way we live, learn, work and trade.

"At Stormont the institutions are in danger and that is impacting directly upon public services, like health and education."

But she also added: "This election is an opportunity to change the direction of our society, to make your voice heard and say enough is enough.

"For people to set a new course and turn away from the politics of division and towards a progressive, positive and pro-European politics, the type these Alliance candidates stand for.

"If people vote for Alliance candidates, they will not only get MPs who are rooted in their constituencies and have the skills, vision and desire to represent them at Westminster, but will send the clearest possible message that devolution must be restored urgently." The party is running in all 18 constituencies, but faces an uphill struggle in a first-past-the-post election system.

Aside from the four candidates listed above, Alliance nominees are: Stewart Dickson in East Antrim, Chris McCaw East Londonderry, Noreen Campbell, Fermanagh and South Tyrone, John Doherty, Foyle, Aaron D McIntyre, Lagan Valley, Fay Watson, Mid Ulster, Jackie Coade, Newry and Armagh, Patricia O'Lynn, North Antrim, Sam Nelson, North Belfast, Andrew Muir, North Down, Neil Kell, South Antrim, Andrew McMurray, South Down, Kellie Armstrong, Strangford, Tara Doyle, Upper Bann, and Stephen Donnelly, West Tyrone.

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