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Derry Sinn Fein MLAs Martina Anderson and Karen Mullan stepping down


Martina Anderson

Martina Anderson

Martina Anderson

Sinn Fein MLAs Martina Anderson and Karen Mullan have confirmed they will not contest the next Assembly election.

Their decision comes amid a review of Sinn Fein’s structure in Derry with the Foyle MLA one of several members asked to consider their positions.

It follows concerns from the party leadership around recent election results and governance issues, with an Assembly election on the horizon next year.

Ms Anderson published a video on her Twitter page this evening confirming that she would not run in the next election.

"There is a privilege in being a public representative standing up for people. I will miss not doing that,” she wrote.

In the video, Ms Anderson said she had received solidarity from supporters "across Derry and beyond" who had been urging her to remain in her role.

She described it as a difficult time for both herself and Ms Mullan.

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"The national leadership correctly wants to re-energise our base and since coming back from Europe I have sought to do just that," she said.

"Throughout my life as a republican I have always put our struggle first 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 added that she would support whoever the local membership selected as a candidate for the May 2022 poll, to help build support in the constituency.

A short time later Ms Mullan tweeted: “I confirm that I will not be seeking a nomination to stand for @sinnfeinireland at the next Assembly Election.”

She added: “It has been a great privilege to represent and work for the people of Derry. I will continue to be a SF activist and I look forward to a new chapter in my life.”

Paying tribute, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald thanked both women for their tireless dedication to both the party and people of Derry and welcomed their commitment to help in the work of rebuilding the party in the city.

“We owe a special thanks to their families who have supported them in their work as public representatives,” Ms McDonald said.

“I acknowledge that the process of reorganisation and change is challenging but it is my belief that our best days lie ahead in Derry and nationally as a new generation of republicans come forward.

“Sinn Fein is on the cusp of leading government, north and south and of achieving a referendum of Irish Unity. A strong, vibrant party in Derry will drive change in Foyle and across Ireland,” she added.

According to the Irish Examiner newspaper, Ms Anderson and Ms Mullan were told earlier this month that as part of a long investigation into the Derry branch of Sinn Fein, launched before Christmas, that they should reconsider their positions.

Both women were co-opted into their seats in the Stormont Assembly.

Ms Anderson first joined the assembly in 2007, later becoming the party's MEP in 2012.

She was again co-opted as MLA for Foyle in January 2020, having lost her seat in Brussels when the United Kingdom left the European Union.

Ms Anderson replaced Raymond McCartney and became the ninth Sinn Fein co-option in the current mandate, which began in March 2017.

Karen Mullan was selected to replace Ms Anderson's niece Elisha McCallion as a Foyle MLA after Mrs McCallion was elected as an MP.

Sinn Fein's Elisha McCallion lost the Foyle Westminster seat to SDLP leader Colum Eastwood by more than 17,000 votes in December 2019.

It has suffered a number of high-profile losses in recent years with the death of Martin McGuinness and retirement of Raymond McCartney.

According to the paper, MLA Gerry Kelly, among others, broke the news to the group last week after a long investigation into the governance of the local group, which began before Christmas.

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