Belfast Telegraph

Election ‘would be an opportunity to press momentum for Irish reunification’

There is ongoing speculation that a general election may be called in the coming months.

Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill with Elisha McCallion (Liam McBurney/PA)
Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill with Elisha McCallion (Liam McBurney/PA)

By Rebecca Black, PA

A general election would be an opportunity to “press forward momentum” for Irish reunification, Sinn Fein’s deputy leader has said.

Michelle O’Neill made the comments to party supporters in Londonderry on Wednesday evening following the selection of Foyle MP Elisha McCallion to defend her seat.

There has been ongoing speculation that a general election may be called in the coming months amid political turbulence over Brexit.

Earlier, Sinn Fein announced that MLA Gerry Kelly will nominate Belfast Lord Mayor John Finucane to run for the party in North Belfast.

The party’s selection convention for the constituency will take place on Sunday.

Mr Finucane finished just over 2,000 votes behind DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds in the constituency following the last general election in 2017.

Mr Kelly said Sinn Fein is “ready to seize the opportunity to oust Brexiteer DUP MPs”.

Ms O’Neill described Sinn Fein gains in Northern Ireland in 2017, increasing their representation from four to seven abstentionist MPs, as the nationalist people sending a “powerful message by turning their back on Westminster”.

“We need to be ready to take whatever comes at us and defend those republican seats and our anti-Brexit and pro-Irish unity mandate,” she said.

“We must argue the merits and popularise the strongest case for Irish unity, a unity poll, and the new conditions presented by Brexit.

“This election will come in the midst of the most defining period in modern Irish republicanism and we must be the daring front-runners who will achieve a unity referendum and make partition in our country history.”

Last week, the SDLP announced it had selected MLA Claire Hanna to run against sitting MP Emma Little-Pengelly (DUP) in South Belfast, while Alliance announced it had selected MLA Paula Bradshaw for the same race.

PA

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