Belfast Telegraph

Date set for West Tyrone Parliamentary by-election

Michelle O’Neill with candidate Órfhlaith Begley
Michelle O’Neill with candidate Órfhlaith Begley

The Northern Ireland Electoral Office have announced that the West Tyrone Parliamentary by-election will take place on Thursday, May 3.

Candidates will vie to replace former Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff who resigned from the position after a scandal erupted when he posted a video posing with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill Massacre.

Police interviewed Mr McElduff about the incident earlier this month.

He did not take his seat at Westminster as part of Sinn Fein's abstentionist policy.

26-year-old solicitor Órfhlaith Begley has been selected to stand as the Sinn Fein candidate for the seat.

She is the daughter of the former Sinn Fein chairman of Omagh District Council Sean Begley, who was a councillor for 26 years.

The Alliance Party have announced Omagh man Stephen Donnelly as their candidate for the election.

There has been speculation that a unity candidate could run in the election but no candidate has been announced.

The other confirmed candidate is Citizens Independent Social Thought Alliance (CISTA) candidate Barry Brown who stood for election to the seat in 2015 and 2017.

In the 2017 General Election Sinn Fein's McElduff topped the poll with 22,060 votes.

The next highest candidate was the DUP's Thomas Buchanan with 11,718.

Mr McElduff had already been suspended by his party for three months before taking the decision to resign.

He said staying in the job would have impeded efforts to forge reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

Mr McElduff has continued to insist that he had not meant the video as a reference to the sectarian murders of 10 protestant workmen by republican paramilitaries near the south Armagh village of Kingsmill in 1976.

However, he acknowledged the post had caused unintentional hurt to the Kingsmill families.

He replaced former Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty who retired in 2017.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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