Belfast Telegraph

Ex-barrister set to replace SF veteran on Belfast Council

By Adrian Rutherford

A former barrister is set to replace one of Sinn Fein's best-known Belfast councillors.

Jim McVeigh, who is the party's leader on Belfast City Council, will step down next month.

The ex-IRA prisoner, who represents the Court electoral ward in west Belfast, has sat on the council since 2010.

He said it had been a privilege to represent the citizens of Belfast.

Last night Sinn Fein selected 34-year-old Claire Canavan, who grew up in the Clonard area, as his replacement. The decision still has to be ratified by the Ard Chomhairle, the party's ruling council.

Ms Canavan was a practising barrister for seven years before taking on the role as Fra McCann's political adviser and constituency manager in 2014.

She took up a position as a policy advisor in Stormont in 2016.

Ms Canavan said she was "proud and honoured" to have been chosen by Sinn Fein.

"I want to thank my colleagues for placing their faith in me to represent this area and I want to play my part in continuing the growth of Sinn Fein in this area and in Belfast City Council," she added.

"I want to thank Jim for the great work he did locally and for the many years of work he has put in as a Sinn Fein councillor in this area.

"Momentum has been building behind Sinn Fein's platform of equality, rights and Irish unity and, if my selection is approved, I will do all in my power to advance that programme."

Mr McVeigh is set to continue as a Sinn Fein activist and to work with the trade union Siptu.

Announcing his decision to step down, he praised the "transformative work" carried out by his party in City Hall.

He added: "It has been a privilege to have represented the citizens of Belfast for seven years and to have led the Sinn Fein team in Belfast City Council.

"Our team there have championed and promoted equality and respect for all citizens and all communities across Belfast.

"We led the drive for an investment strategy which has delivered unprecedented resources for public services and public amenities, creating and sustaining thousands of jobs across Belfast.

"I am particularly proud of the role that our Sinn Fein team played in delivering that investment and creating those jobs and I know they will continue to deliver for all the citizens of Belfast."

Meanwhile, Ryan Murphy has been selected to replace another long-serving Sinn Fein councillor.

Mr Murphy (23) is a junior boxing champion, who attended St Patrick's College, Belfast, and the University of Ulster, Jordanstown.

He will replace Gerry McCabe, who recently announced he was stepping down.

Mr Murphy said it was "a brilliant time to be a republican representative".

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